GenSan city council to probe ‘excessive’ gas prices

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/02 September) — The city council here is set to launch an inquiry over the supposed “excessive” local pump prices of gasoline and other petroleum products.

City Councilor Brix Tan, chair of the council’s committee on commerce, trade and industry, said they will summon local petroleum dealers and retailers to a hearing in the next few days to shed light on the pricing scheme being implemented by oil companies for fuel products that are sold in the city.

He said they will specifically determine whether the city’s fuel pump prices, which are around P4 higher per liter compared to Davao City and other key areas in Mindanao, are properly justified and in order.

The bulk of fuel products that are sold in the city mainly come from depots of oil companies located in Davao City and the neighboring areas.

Oil companies earlier said fuel pump prices are computed based on the distance of the distribution area or locality to the depots and the actual transportation costs.

But Tan said the P4 price difference between fuel pump prices here and in Davao City appears excessive based on their initial analysis and computation on the cost of hauling or transporting the fuel products from the depots to this city

“The (transportation cost) for a one-way trip will only average around P1 so if you consider the travel back to the depots, the total add-on to the original pump price should only be P2,” the councilor told reporters.

The average retail price per liter of diesel in the city is presently around P47.25 while unleaded gasoline is sold at P58.75 to P59, depending on the oil company or product brand.

Premium gasoline is retailed at P58.60 to P58.90 per liter.

Based on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) monitoring, the fuel pump prices in this city are so far the second highest among key cities in Mindanao and was only surpassed by Cotabato City.

The DOE’s regular fuel price monitoring also covers the cities of Davao, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Dipolog and Butuan.

Tan said consumers in this city and the neighboring localities could just be victims of an ongoing price war on various petroleum products among oil companies in some major cities.

“Oil companies appear to have been trying to recover their losses from the price war to customers here and those in other markets,” he said.

In 2008, the city council conducted a series of inquiries on the problem after the difference then on the fuel pump prices here and in Davao City reached nearly P6 per liter.

The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 had looked into the matter several times in the past years and held sessions with petroleum dealers and retailers within the region.

Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Local dealers and retailers had told the council that they don’t have any control over the pump prices of petroleum products as they are reportedly set by officials of the Metro Manila-based oil companies. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)