Thursday, September 30, 2004

NR0929: Alternatives to oil deregulation

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release September 29, 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Celphone number 09213907362

Rep. Beltran dares GMA administration to implement workable solutions to oil
price hikes; slams Energy Sec. Perez for lawyering for the oil cartel

Anakpawis representative Crispin Beltran today said that President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo will not be able to weather the political blows that will
surely be coming her way once the impact of a new series of bigger oil prices
is felt by the public. He said that the administration cannot and will not be
able to hide behind any excuses and weasel itself away from the blame when the
OPHs hit and the prices of basic commodities and rates of electricity, water
and transportation services begin to increase once more.

"The Macapagal-Arroyo administration has dug the hole it will inevitably fall
in. Instead of heeding the warnings of progressive economists and
industrialists as well as consumers groups to stop the implementation of the
oil deregulation law, Pres. Arroyo continued to coddle the oil companies and
turn a blind eye to their abuses. If immediate progressive and protectionist
reforms were made in the oil industry, the increases in the prices of oil in
the world market would not affect the economy so much," he said.

The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker said that Energy Secretary Vince Perez'
assertion that the public should brace itself for more increases was
infuriating. "Perez has done and said nothing but defend and justify the oil
prices increases. He's essentially an apologist and a lawyer for the oil
companies. He has not presented a single solution to the current situation.
He's spineless and useless when it comes to helping the Filipino people cope
with the oil price hikes. What is he still doing in government service when
he's actually serving the oil companies?"

Beltran even said that Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senator Manuel
Villar have named the cartel of Shell, Caltex and Petron as the culprit
behind successive oil price increases. Drilon even pointed out that to break
the monopoly in the oil industry, the government should seriously study
reacquiring majority control of Petron.

Beltran said that the Arroyo administration to pursue centralized procurement of
imported crude oil and refined petroleum products as a measure to protect the
public from unstable world market prices of oil.

"Under centralized procurement, government is the exclusive supplier of crude or
refined petroleum to oil firms. Government can shop around the world market to
find the cheapest oil, instead of allowing oil firms to source their own
imports," he said. "This set up would also prevent transfer pricing by parent
companies to their recipient companies. It will also allow government to check
or at least minimize profiteering among oil companies in the face of
skyrocketing global petroleum prices."

The repeal of the oil deregulation law is just one of the many doable measures
in our goal to nationalize the oil industry. Other policy reforms that can be
undertaken are the following:
· reversal of the privatization of Petron;
· centralized procurement of crude oil and refined petroleum products to arrest
transfer pricing and other unscrupulous practices;
· initiation of commodity swaps through bilateral arrangements;
· establishment of a buffer fund that can help cushion the impact of price
fluctuations in international crude oil; and
· aggressive development of alternative sources of energy

"These are concrete measures that one may expect from an administration that has
the political will to reverse deregulation and consequently go against the
dictates of multilateral creditors like the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The arguments for nationalization must be considered at this point when prices
of petroleum products continue to increase, and as government officials claim
that they cannot do anything to control the prices," he concluded.#


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