Big businessmen and oil cartels profit from Covid-19
Big businessmen and oil cartels hijack the pandemic to pocket even larger amounts of superprofit. From December 2020 to January 2022, the net increase in diesel prices reach P20.95, P22.05 for gasoline and P17.89 for kerosene. The price hikes accumulated in that single year is higher than the three-year combined price increases from 2016 until 2019.
Oil companies justify these price hikes by citing the supposed movements in the world market. In truth, oil pricing is controlled by the collusion of oil cartels, financial institutions and the imperialist US. Because the US has overproduction of oil, it can make it seem that world demand is high while supply is low to rationalize the increase in its prices. Through financial and market speculation and instigation of wars of aggression, oil cartels and the imperialist US freely manipulate the oil supply and demand balance.
On the national level, this condition is further worsened by the deregulation of local oil industries. By its effect, the government has completely surrendered its powers to control the importation and pricing of oil products in the country. Private companies and oil cartels are free to dictate the volume of oil importation, distribution and pricing in the local market. Thus, as the products reach the local market, oil companies set a higher price than the standard pricing dictated by the world market. Before the pandemic, the common transfer pricing practiced by oil companies reaches $3 per barrel of imported oil. This is undoubtedly even higher now.
Neoliberal policies implemented by the US-Duterte regime further worsen this state of affairs – more so during the pandemic. Last 2020, in the midst of the lockdown, he enacted an additional 10% tax on oil that resulted to the rapid hike in petroleum prices. TRAIN Law also brought the same effect on oil prices.
Because petroleum products are basic inputs for production, all sectors of the society are affected with the increase of its prices. Costs of production for farmers and fishermen, drivers and other small-scale industries will be directly affected while consumers will also suffer from the resulting higher commodity prices.
The ruinous economic crisis brought by the ceaseless oil price hikes compel the people to strengthen their anti-imperialist struggle and to focus their organized strength against the primary enforcer of neoliberalism in the country – the US-Duterte regime. The NDF-Bikol is one with the people in their fight to hold the puppet regime, imperialist US, their cartel and big transnational companies accomplices accountable.