The Department of Energy (DOE) wants to explore legal means that could force oil companies to be more transparent on their margins for profit.
DOE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi told Manila Bulletin reporters that they “have difficulty unraveling industry take, they (oil companies) don’t want to reveal it.”
The energy department has been trying to implement an unbundling policy of all cost components being passed on to consumers via pump prices but has been met with dissent from oil firms.
Cusi admitted that DOE hasn’t pinned an acceptable legal fix yet that will urge the oil companies to disclose their profitability levels.
“This time, we don’t have a solid legal ground yet to let them reveal that ‘trade secret,’ a legal fix in which the oil companies can’t sue me,” he said.
The DOE likened the oil industry with the power sector which has the same facet of deregulation, however, the power sector is fully transparent on pricing building blocks on profits and even the basis of pricing their services.
Cusi noted that oil firms show the percentage and final numbers in their own reports, but they never specify what particular costs goes to what components.
He warned that if the oil companies won’t be fully cooperative in disclosing their numbers, consumers will be affected by the proposed unbundling policy on pump prices.
“If we would not be able to know their margins, then the cost unbundling policy will just be partial. What good will that do then?,” he said.
The energy department is up for another round of public consultation this week on the oil firms’ pricing elements, which includes various stakeholders.
Cusi said that the industry is deregulated but this shouldn’t stop the government to take steps in making the players transparent and accountable to the consuming public they serve.