“With oil prices soaring, the agriculture and transport sectors need to get fuel subsidies now”
WITH the price of crude oil breaching the $100 a barrel level as the Russia-Ukraine dispute rocks global markets, there is no time to quibble over the release of vital subsidies for the sectors. of agriculture and transport, declared the chief of the economic affairs of the Senate. panel said Friday.
Senator Imee Marcos said Russia’s attack on Ukraine and a possible embargo on Russian oil and gas exports will further drive up global oil prices and make local fuels more expensive.
“We need to finalize implementing rules and regulations for the release of 500 million pesos in fuel subsidies for farmers and fishermen as soon as possible,” Marcos said, addressing the Ministry of Agriculture (DA) .
The senator also urged the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) “not to wait until April” before fuel subsidies are made available to drivers of public utility vehicles, taxis, tricycles and transportation and delivery services.
Under Special Provision No. 8 of the Omnibus Finance Act 2022, the government can release 2.5 billion pesos in fuel subsidies for the transport sector when the average price of Dubai crude reaches $80 per month. barrel in three consecutive months.
However, presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said the DBM has yet to decide how to interpret the three-month deadline that will trigger the release of fuel subsidies.
“We have to decide immediately whether the period starts in January this year or earlier. With oil now trading above $100 a barrel, the three-month average oil price from November could hit $80 next week,” Marcos said.
At the same time, the Department of Energy must act to quickly reduce the country’s dependence on imports from the Middle East by finding alternative sources of oil, the senator said.
She suggested taking advantage of lower prices from China “and other big players not involved in the sanctions system of Western nations. Let us open negotiations with Venezuela and African countries to safeguard our national supply and increase our reserves.
In the long term, she added, “we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by harnessing more wind and solar energy. Our success in Ilocos Norte suggests we can do this nationwide. She was referring to wind turbines and solar installations expanding in her home province.
She lamented that the Philippines “still does not have a comprehensive and coherent energy plan beyond UC Malampaya”. One option, she said, is to “explore more local energy sources with China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, if we make our tax regimes more attractive for investment.”