Fuel price unbundling must be fully transparent

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

The planned fuel price unbundling must be accessible and totally transparent for the public and the auditors such that they must be made available to the desktop and mobile devices.

 

This was the proposal of Rep. Carlos Roman Uybarreta, 1st Consumer Alliance for Rural Energy partylist, as he said that the general public and must be subject for audit.

 

He welcomed the statement of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi that the DOE will come out with a policy on unbundling petroleum product prices. “We need to unbundle the prices. It has to happen," Cusi was quoted as saying in a DOE news release.

 

As Vice Chair of the House Committee on Energy, he said he would work with the DOE on this. Executive branch decisions on the unbundling of fuel prices would be good. However, for fuel price transparency to truly take hold and last, the unbundling must be firmly established by law.

 

Filipinos must know why the fuel they buy costs so much.

 

With unbundling of fuel prices, point of sale purchases of gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and LPG would have to show the breakdowns of the costing of the fuel, in somewhat the same way as the breakdown of our electricity bills.

 

The receipt of fuel bought at the gas stations must show crude oil cost, when it was bought, and the price components because of importation excise tax paid, foreign exchange currency adjustments, refining costs, and distribution costs. Making this happen will need some doing in terms of billing technology execution, but it can be done.

 

Fuel price transparency is an absolute necessity whether fuel prices are high or low because full public disclosure, similar to what is happening in the Philippine stock exchange and in the unbundled electricity rates, is what ought to happen with fuels.

 

By fuels, I mean not just the liquid fuels but coal as well. Coal, because it is a fuel for some of our power plants.

 

Implementation of the unbundling of fuel prices might be more difficult than our country's experience with the unbundling of electricity rates, partly because of the necessity of having an online database of all the fuel prices sold all over the country and relevant data on the cost breakdown of all fuel sold from the time of importation to point of sale.

 

For even greater transparency, the general public must be able to view all that data using their own desktop computers and mobile devices. The data and the database must be open to regular and surprise spot audits by external private auditors and the Commission on Audit.

 

That is the level of transparency the Filipino people deserve.

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