Train prompts 48 gas stations to raise prices
Only 48 of the 1,759 gas stations in the Visayas had implemented the additional excise tax on prices of petroleum products under the second tranche of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law, as of Monday, Jan. 14.
Nineteen were based in Cebu, 19 in Bohol, seven in Negros Oriental and three in other areas in the Visayas.
The additional excise tax was P2 per liter on diesel and gasoline, P1 per liter on kerosene and P1 per kilogram on liquefied petroleum gas.
Jose Rey Maleza, chief of the Department of Energy (DOE) Visayas’ Energy Industry Management Division, said the 48 gas stations had informed them that their old buf- fer stock had run out.
Of that number, seven were part of the 444 gas stations nationwide that had told the DOE’s Oil Industry Management Bureau that they already implemented the additional excise tax.
Maleza said they were validating the documents of the seven gas stations in the Visayas and inspecting their facilities.
“We sent them a show-cause order so they could explain and provide evidence. This was to ensure that doubts on their early implementation would be eliminated,” he told Superbalita Cebu on Monday. “We want to make sure that those who imposed the additional excise tax had done so justifiably, and not because there was already the second tranche,” he said.
If a gas station raised its prices without proof of a new delivery, the DOE would issue a showcause order. If found guilty, the gas station would either be fined or charged in court.
The 48 gas stations in the Visayas were from the four big petroleum companies: Petron, Shell, Caltex and Flying V.
Maleza said the smaller, independent petroleum players had yet to implement the additional excise tax.
He admitted that they could not inspect all gas stations, especially those based in the provinces.
“We’re talking about the whole of Visayas. We cannot cover everything. That’s why we’re asking other agencies to help monitor the price increases, especially if there are complaints, so we can immediately identify the subject of the complaint and investigate,” he said in Cebuano.
Call for transparency
DOE Visayas Director Saul Gonzales, in a separate interview, said the gas stations that had already implemented the additional excise tax should be transparent by placing tarpaulins in their premises to inform customers of changes in prices due to the Train Law.
Gonzales also said they would field personnel to inspect gas stations to see to it that they followed the law.
The second tranche took effect on Jan. 1 yet, but DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi wanted to get rid of the oil inventory from 2018 first.
Cusi had said most oil companies had an oil inventory equivalent to 15 days. That was why the agency estimated that the supply would be exhausted by Jan. 15 and the oil companies would start raising prices.
“We have to make sure that no unscrupulous businessmen will take advantage of the increase in excise tax,” Gonzales said.
Of the 1,759 gas stations in the Visayas, 682 are in Central Visayas with 424 located in Cebu.