Businessman Ramon Ang on Monday expressed willingness to sell back Petron Corp., the country’s biggest oil company, to the government at market value after a bill was filed to renationalize the oil company.
Ang, president and chief executive officer of Petron Corp., said he is open to suggestions for the government to acquire Petron anytime.
Petron owns the Philippines’ lone oil refinery with a capacity of 180,000 barrels per day, located in Bataan.
In a recent House hearing, Ang said he was even willing to give the government five years to pay for the company.
“I swear if the government wants to buy the company, just say so and I will sell it to you right away,” he said in Filipino. “Do a valuation immediately.”
He said Petron lost P18 billion last year. Oil companies worldwide, including Petron, reeled from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
“If you think the business is a jackpot, let the government buy it at market value. I don’t need to earn from the government,” he said.
San Miguel Corp., parent firm of Petron, started managing the oil company in 2009.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate has filed a bill for state-run Philippine National Oil Co. to reacquire Petron.
This developed as the oil firms implemented an oil price rollback effective Tuesday due to the softening of world oil demand.
Weaker economic data from China and a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Europe have affected global demand.
“Petron will implement the following price rollbacks effective 6 a.m. on Nov 9: P1.00/liter rollback for gasoline; P0.60/liter rollback for diesel; and P.65/liter rollback for kerosene. These reflect movements in the international oil market,” Petron said in its advisory.
Aside from Petron, other oil companies such as Chevron Philippines, Phoenix Petroleum, Seaoil Philippines, Cleanfuel, and PTT Philippines also cut prices.
On Nov. 2, the oil companies raised prices. Gasoline increased by P1.10 to P1.15 per liter but diesel and kerosene decreased by P0.35 to P0.40 per liter and P0.40 per liter, respectively.
These resulted in year-to-date net increases of P21.95 per liter for gasoline, P18.10 per liter for diesel and P15.74 per liter for kerosene.
Meanwhile, the House committee on ways and means has created a technical working group (TWG) to craft the panel’s substitute bill reducing fuel excise taxes imposed under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda of Albay, chairman of the panel, said the bill if approved would suspend excise taxes on diesel (from P6 per liter) and kerosene (from P5 per liter) from Dec. 1, 2021 to June 1, 2022, while reducing excise taxes on gasoline by as much as P3 per liter.
At the same time, Salceda also directed the TWG to differentiate rates between premium and unleaded gasoline, given the use of unleaded gasoline by the public transport sector.
“This is immediate relief. I am skeptical of targeted measures when the situation is dire because they tend to take time, and many fall through the cracks. A universal approach gets the job of easing suffering done quickly,” Salceda said.
“At the same time, I do not want to commit the next administration to a long-term policy of tax reduction. So, I think this is a happy compromise,” he added.
According to the Department of Finance (DOF), Salceda’s proposal will result in foregone revenues of P37.5 billion. This, he said, can be offset in part by increases in VAT collection due to higher prices.
The DOF also estimated that Salceda’s proposal could increase disposable incomes by 0.22 to 0.48 percent, increase consumption by around 0.2 percent, and reduce inflation by around 0.14 percent.
Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, meanwhile, urged his colleagues in the House to pass a bill suspending excise tax increases on oil products this week.
He said cutting the oil levy “will bring immediate relief to our people, who are reeling from the double whammy of the raging pandemic and rising pump prices of gasoline, diesel, cooking gas, and other petroleum products.”
“Enacting the bill will cut the tax and pump prices by at least P3 per liter and P33 per 11-kilogram cylinder of liquefied petroleum gas. It will have a domino effect on the prices of consumer goods and services,” Rodriguez said.
The Department of Transportation on Monday signed a memorandum of agreement with Land Bank of the Philippines for the immediate release of the P1 billion fuel subsidy for jeepney drivers nationwide.
The P1 billion budget for fuel subsidy will be distributed to the 136,230 qualified and bona fide jeepney drivers nationwide, based on the TRAIN law.
The funds will be disbursed through the Land Bank, straight into cash cards issued to the drivers.
The department said the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) earlier disbursed more than P4.7 billion for the government’s service contracting program under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
The LTFRB said total payout to public jeepney drivers and operators amounted to P1.91 billion as of June 30, while it released P2.29 billion between Sept. 13 and Oct. 23, 2021.
The government program has given free rides to 31.65 million people as of October.
Also on Monday, Senator Grace Poe said she has filed Senate Bill 2445 that seeks to suspend the collection of excise taxes on gasoline and diesel if the average price of Dubai crude oil hits $80 per barrel for three consecutive months.
The suspension of the excise tax will immediately bring down the cost by P10 per liter for gasoline and P6 per liter for diesel.
“The rising cost of fuel is certain to have a spillover effect on the cost of other products, especially food which accounts for a big chunk of a household’s expenses. Such will aggravate poverty and hunger among our people. If the government cannot substantially provide for its people, then at the very least, it must do all it can to ease their burden,” Poe said.