To preempt oxygen shortage scare, DTI urges manufactur­ers to boost supply

- By Tyrone Jasper C. Piad @Tyronepiad

WHILE the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) considers importatio­n, it has asked the oxygen manufactur­ers to expand their capacities to meet the demand in the country.

“Yes, possible,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told reporters on Wednesday when asked if importatio­n is a possible recommenda­tion to preempt a surge in demand.

But the DTI has “also encouraged oxygen manufactur­ers to expand their current capacities,” Lopez said. The total capacity for medical and industrial oxygen is currently 603 tons per day, Lopez said.

He noted that an oxygen tank is a medical product being manufactur­ed under a sector entitled to incentives under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprise­s (CREATE) law.

The DTI has also asked the Department of Health to stockpile oxygen cylinder tanks and regulators in the event that demand soars amid the Covid-19 Delta variant threat.

Lopez said that current industry capacity is about three times more than the demand in the country. He said producers have not yet increased prices amid the surplus on the production side.

“The current capacity surplus includes both the medical and industrial oxygen capacity, and the latter can also be allocated to produce medical oxygen if and when necessary,” he said.

The DTI chief said the increase in demand for cylinder tanks comes from households acquiring one for personal use—not for hoarding but because they are worried that they may need this in case the queue for hospitals takes longer than usual while family members with suspected Covid are suffering low oxygen levels.

“Hoarding especially at this time is a crime and our economic intelligen­ce team will run after erring distributo­rs or refillers,” he warned.

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