Rising fuel pump prices seen to stifle economy

Johanna O. Bajenting
·3 min read

AN INCREASE of more than P1 per liter in gasoline pump prices will greet motorists on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, to “reflect movements in the international oil market.”

Described by business leaders in Cebu as a setback to economic recovery from the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, this latest increase is the seventh price adjustment in less than two months.

In separate advisories on their official social media pages, the so-called Big 3 oil companies operating in the country and other oil firms announced a P1.20-per-liter increase in prices of gasoline and a P0.95-per-liter increase for diesel.

Petron Corp. said it will implement the price increases effective 6 a.m. Tuesday. It will also increase the price of kerosene by P1 per liter.

Chevron Philippines (Caltex) said its fuel prices will increase at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday. Platinum will increase by P1.20 per liter, Silver by P1.20 per liter, diesel by P0.95 per liter and kerosene by P1.05 per liter.

Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. said its price adjustments will also take effect at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, with gasoline up by P1.20 per liter, diesel by P0.95 per liter and kerosene by P1 per liter.

Petrogazz, Seaoil and PTT Philippines will implement the same price adjustments at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Seaoil will also increase the price of kerosene by P1 per liter.

Cleanfuel is set to increase gasoline prices by P1.20 per liter and diesel by P0.95 per liter at 4:01 p.m. on Tuesday.

Unioil made a forecast two days back that fuel prices would go up within Feb. 23 to Mar. 1, 2021 by P1 to P1.10 per liter of diesel and by P1.10 to P1.20 per liter of gasoline.

Hopeful

Steven Yu, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, was hopeful that the increase would be temporary.

“While the oil price increase is definitely an added burden to the financially challenged consumers suffering from a year-old pandemic, we hope that this will only be temporary, and will correct itself after a maximum one month period when the oil supply resumes its regular production,” he said.

As high oil prices are bad for a recovering global economy, Yu said business leaders are expecting the United States to take the lead in stabilizing oil prices.

The US is one of the major oil producers and has allies like Saudi Arabia, which can influence oil price directions.

However, the deep freeze in Texas affected most of the country’s energy companies as they prepared to restart oil and gas fields, based on a Reuters report.

“Rising oil prices is definitely a setback to the recovery of the world economy from the effects of the Covid pandemic, especially the Philippines, which is import-dependent,” Yu said.

Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Felix Taguiam, for his part, said he was also hopeful that oil companies can help mitigate the impact of the price adjustments.

He said the higher fuel pump prices would create a ripple effect, translating into higher costs of supply chain management and manufacturing, and higher prices of consumer goods.

“World oil prices have been increasing lately and the recent Texas cold snap is not helping also since the country is a net importer now of finished petroleum products. The dollar to peso is also inching up,” he said.

Taguiam stressed the need to begin vaccinations against Covid-19 to jumpstart the ailing economy.