Research group IBON asks the Independent Oil Price Review Committee (IOPRC) when it will release its findings on oil overpricing and what is causing its delay, especially after oil firms hiked prices of petroleum products successively this week.
After a series of rollbacks from April to June, oil prices have increased anew and have totaled to around Php5.88 for diesel and Php7.15 for gasoline since July. As more oil price hikes are reportedly looming this week, the research group reminds government of its pronouncement that it will look into allegations of overpricing by big oil firms.
The IOPRC was tasked early this year to investigate top oil companies for allegations of excessive profiteering and had set a July deadline. However after announcing that the report was already “60-70% done” last May, the oil price review body has yet to release its findings. According to IBON, the review panel seems to be facing difficulties in gathering sufficient data to disprove reports of overpricing by the oil firms.
IBON added that if the Aquino administration were responsibly and effectively regulating the oil industry in the first place, then review bodies like the IOPRC would be unnecessary. Moreover, any findings on profiteering will be futile if government chooses not to regulate the oil industry, as it is doing now.
Real regulation means that government builds its own capacity, expertise and is directly involved in the oil industry, the research group said. However under deregulation, there is no system in place to monitor oil companies, ensure their transparency and hold them accountable for excessive profits and overpricing.
Past studies of IBON have shown that oil players Shell, Chevron and Petron have been overcharging beyond what is justified by movements in international crude prices. Early this year, the research group presented an analysis of monthly price data showing that since the full deregulation of the oil industry in 1999, local pump prices are rising faster than the global crude prices. This is in contrast with the pre-deregulation period when net increases in diesel pump prices were lower than increases in Dubai. This does not yet reflect profits made by the global cartel of major private and national oil companies from the sale of crude oil.
IBON hopes that as the IOPRC wraps up its audit of the oil companies, it will heed critiques of the previous report presented by the independent oil review committee in 2009. This report, which concluded that deregulation should remain, failed to examine the structure of the global oil industry and how the global oil cartel shapes the dynamics of prices and competition at the local level.
Instead of upholding deregulation as the previous committee did, IBON said that the oil price review committee has the opportunity to look into overpricing by big oil firms, and demand effective regulation and transparency of the oil industry. (end)
IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.