The urgency for real transparency in the domestic oil industry remains despite the recent rollback in oil prices, and vital information needs to be disclosed for the public to be assured that the monopolized domestic oil industry is not profiting at their expense.
According to independent think-tank IBON Foundation, the public has been put at the mercy of the oil firms and their mysterious pricing schemes, and is left to take the oil companies’ word that their prices are fair and their profits reasonable. It enumerated the data that oil firms need to disclose to ensure the public that their welfare is not being jeopardized.
Among others, this information includes: 1) the retail pricing formulas and strategies of the oil firms domestically and as they relate to their foreign mother corporations; 2) the overseas supply sources and the terms and periods of their supply contracts; 3) any payments local firms make to mother firms whether as profit shares, charges for technologies or services, fees and other payments; 4) refinery stocks and capacity; 5) inventories and storage capacity; 6) local sales and distribution to direct buyers, retailers and other oil firms.
While some of this information is already reported or otherwise available, others such as supply contracts have unfortunately been claimed as “confidential” by the oil companies. This information will not just address legitimate public doubts but also be vital in assisting policy makers and legislators in developing responsible energy policies.
IBON believes that the oil deregulation law has clearly failed to introduce effective competition in the downstream oil industry which remains subject to monopoly control and domination by the Big Three oil firms. It has merely allowed the global oil monopolies to freely pass on inflated crude oil prices and given the domestic oil firms license to price as they see fit, at the expense of Filipino consumers.
Oil is a critical sector with far-reaching impacts on the public welfare and cannot be allowed to operate on a largely profit-maximizing basis, said the think-tank. Real transparency is thus crucial for public interest to prevail