Commentary: PGMA's order for stricter audit of books of oil, power firms
By Miriam P. Aquino
San Fernando City, La Union (6 August) -- To soften the impact of soaring oil price to the Filipinos, particularly the poorest of the poor, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department of Energy to conduct stricter audit of oil and power companies to ensure that the downtrend in world oil prices will immediately be felt by the public by lowering prices of the socially-sensitive commodity.
Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said that the President wants to ensure that there is no unreasonable increases by these firms and that the lowering of oil prices in the international market are in the same way reflected in the local market in compliance with the Oil Deregulation Law.
In a recent press conference held in San Fernando, this province, initiated by the Department of Energy (DOE), in cooperation with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Office I, and the Regional Development Council (RDC), DOE Undersecretary Roy Kyamko said that Secretary Angelo Reyes sought the assistance of an independent body – the reputable auditing firm Sycip, Gorres and Velayo (SGV) to conduct said audit with the University of Asia in the Pacific to interpret and announce findings / results.
Kyamko said that the audit started sometime in February and analysis has been announced only three weeks ago. Based on the results and findings, the conclusion or interpretation of the University of Asia in the Pacific was that "there was no unreasonable price increase as of May 2008."
Kyamko added that a composite task force from DOE and the Department of Justice (DOJ) has also been formed with him as the chairman and Undersecretary Salazar of the DOE as vice-chairman. The task force, he said, has requested the Ibon Foundation for copies of their findings on allegations which was also published in national dailies that oil firms have been gaining a lot on the imposed oil price increase.
The Ibon Foundation have not yet provided a copy to the task force on their alleged findings of abusive price increases, Kyamko said, which prompted President Arroyo to order stricter audit of oil firms.
Presidential Management Staff (PMS) chief Secretary Serge Remonde said that the President is directing Secretary Reyes to conduct a "more stricter audit of oil firms" during the joint National Price Coordinating Council and National Food and Energy Council (NPCC-NFEC) meeting in Malacañang recently.
Remonde added that the President wants the claim of oil and power companies of "under recoveries" verified through strict auditing procedures, with the projection of the US-based investment banking giant Merill Lynch that oil price downtrend in the global market is likely to continue until next year.
The average oil price in the world market last week was pegged at $122 per barrel, down by a few dollars from that of $147, record-high in previous weeks. (PIA La Union) [top]