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PIA Press Release

Commentary: Gov't to cushion impact of rising oil prices

By Renee F. De Guzman

San Fernando City, La Union (7 November) -- Alarmed by the unabated rise in fuel prices in the world market, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered concerned agencies to draw up measures to cushion its impact on Filipinos.

The President also called on the people to unite, put an end to politicking, and join hands to help soften the impact of rising fuel prices.

Earlier, President Arroyo convened the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) and the Export Development Council (EDC) to discuss measures to ease the impact of surging oil prices on industries and enhance productivity for the country to be globally competitive.

Concerned with the sustainability of small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) which are considered the hardest hit by the steep prices, the President has instructed the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to initiate reforms on "bad" electric cooperatives especially in "high density areas".

The President also instructed Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila to make representations with Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) to include SMEs in the coverage of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) and Meralco to give special power rates to locators in economic zone.

The MOA will be implemented this month and will benefit the electronics industry the most.

At the same time, the President called anew on Congress to focus on passing key legislations such as the Cheaper Medicine Bill and the Amendment to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to pave way for cheaper power rates.

The President also wanted the 2008 budget bill passed so that funds would be available for key projects.

President Arroyo directed Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes to push for the immediate passage of the bill on alternative and renewable sources of energy and to coordinate with Metro Manila Mayors Council headed by Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte to push for the unified/single traffic violation ticketing system with a case pending at the Supreme Court filed by the public transport sector.

The government is also intensifying the campaign against "kotong" or graft among traffic enforcers. The President ordered Secretary Reyes to study the feasibility of forming a joint "anti-kotong" task force with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The Energy secretary is tasked to oversee the implementation of the government measures in responding to the rapid increase of oil prices in the world market amidst the strengthening of the peso.

Currently, there is an average increase of 60 percent on the price of oil in the world market. The domestic oil price increment is well below the global price due to the surging peso.

The effects of the surge in oil prices could have been worse if not for the "resilient" economy and strong peso.

The price of crude oil is expected to hit $100 a barrel in coming weeks until the end of December 2007. This could lead to additional increase in gasoline of P1.03 per liter up to P3.21 per liter this year. (PIA La Union) [top]

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