DOE sees continued double-digit fuel price hike, to seek excise tax suspension before Duterte cabinet

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 14) — The Department of Energy (DOE) sees a continued double-digit fuel price hike in the coming weeks, despite the government setting aside funds for subsidies for affected sectors.

"Tomorrow, we are seeing the price to be less than ₱12 for diesel and less than ₱7 for gasoline because of the connection to the world price market," Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi told CNN Philippines' The Source on Monday when asked how much increase in prices can be expected.

Cusi said they recently met with industry players to request for a staggard increase in prices, but they "are not receptive to it."

"In fact, they've brought up to our attention their problem also because their replacement inventory, they have to acquire it at a higher price," he said. "In fact, they are asking our government if they can be helped with the financing. We discussed that with DOF (Department of Finance)."

"We have to look at it in a bigger picture. We need to bring in the supply to the country and we have to make sure that our industry players will be able to continue to do that," he added. "It's a cashflow problem that they are also bringing to our attention. I know that the sentiments of our consumers regarding our industry players pero ang seguridad ng supply (but sufficient supply) is also something we are looking at."

Cusi said they will meet with President Rodrigo Duterte, some economic managers, and government agencies on Tuesday to discuss the issue. He stressed that the agency will reiterate its appeal to suspend fuel excise taxes to cushion the burden of the affected sectors.

Cheaper LPG?

The energy secretary also noted that aside from the ₱5-billion budget for cash aid for the transport sector and the ₱1.1-billion fund for fuel discount vouchers for the agricultural sector, they will look into the possibility of subsidizing the cost of liquefied petroleum gas or LPG among households.

The DOE earlier said that it is considering other measures that can be taken amid non-stop fuel price hikes, including unbundling of petroleum retail products, amending the Oil Deregulation Law and a review of the country's capability to have its own oil reserve.

READ: DOE: Fuel unbundling, strategic oil reserve plan eyed to cushion impact of price hikes

Cusi admitted that he anticipates a potential problem in the supply chain if left unaddressed.

"We dont know what will happen in the supply chain, in the world market. We just have to be prepared. We need to have that inventory in place in our country because we don’t have a strategic petroleum reserve unlike the developed countries," he noted.

Some transport groups are planning to stage a protest rally on Tuesday amid skyrocketing oil prices. Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection said some others, including trucks, delivery riders, and motorcycle taxis are also considering halting their trips for good, as plying their routes only entail additional costs.

READ: Another massive fuel price hike expected next week