Philippine consumer group asks PCC to probe price-fixing by alleged oil cartel |
Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI), a Philippine-based consumer advocacy group, has asked the country’s antitrust commission to investigate alleged price-fixing and collusion among 16 fuel companies and the Department of Energy (DOE), the group’s President told PaRR.
The oil companies mentioned in the complaint filed on Thursday (14 November) include Chevron Philippines, Inc., Petron Corp., PTT Philippines Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Total Philippines Corp., Seaoil Philippines Inc., Phoenix
Petroleum Philippines Inc., Unioil Petroleum Philippines Inc., Jetti Petroleum Inc., Eastern Petroleum Corp., City Oil Philippines Inc., Filpride Energy Corp., Clean Fuels Philippines., TWA Inc. and Petro Gazz Ventures Corp.
LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba accused the oil companies of price fixing and colluding with the DoE by using an automated pricing formula posted on the department’s website.
“I believe that price fixing, collusion and cartel (behavior) is being abetted and facilitated by a pricing formula which was agreed and entered upon by all the respondents,” Dimagiba said.
He said the pricing formula, which is updated on a weekly basis, substantially prevented and restricted fair and competitive pricing of petroleum products sold by the companies.
It is alleged that the parties agreed amongst themselves to adjust prices by the same amount without disclosing correct dates, costs, or whether the company is a refiner or importer of finished products, Dimagiba added.
He said the price-fixing scheme has been practiced by the oil companies from January 2017 to present.
During the period, Dimagiba said the oil companies individually sent weekly notices to the DoE, updating the agency on the adjusted prices of gasoline, diesel and kerosene, which was done simultaneously.
Dimagiba is asking the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to initiate criminal and administrative actions against the oil firms for violating both the Competition Act and the Oil Deregulation Law, and to impose pecuniary fines and penalties as proscribed by law.
He is also asking the PCC to prevent the DoE from implementing the pricing formula. Dimagiba called on the competition agency to ensure the fair and reasonable pricing of fuel as mandated by the Oil Deregulation Law.
Marikina City Representative Stella Quimbo, a former commissioner at the PCC, earlier asked Congress to investigate the DoE’s scheme to monitor fuel prices for potential anticompetitive aspects.
Quimbo previously told PaRR that in addition to investigating possible competition problems with the scheme, the probe will also try to determine if the policy could be facilitating collusion among fuel suppliers. by James Konstantin Galvez in Manila