THE GOVERNMENT should recommend measures that would lessen the impact of surging oil prices on basic commodities, a consumer group said over the weekend.

Laban Konsyumer, Inc. President Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba said high fuel prices drive inflation, which affect consumers, especially those in vulnerable sectors such as daily wage earners. 

“We call on the government to remain vigilant despite the lower inflation in January and implement measures such as temporary reduction of taxes on fuel products and approve contracts to mitigate the impact of higher fuel and power prices on consumer prices in the coming months,” Mr. Dimagiba said in a statement over the weekend. 

Further, Mr. Dimagiba said there is a need to suspend the excise tax on fuel products, enforce a temporary price freeze on basic commodities, suspend the application of fare hikes, and give fuel discounts to public transport drivers and operators who have a weekly fuel consumption of 50 liters. 

“Diesel and gasoline prices should be included in the list of basic commodities, which are subject to price freeze or price control in times of calamity and disasters, and to review and repeal the weekly oil price formula that results in an identical amount of price adjustments among oil companies and retailers,” he said.

Based on data from the Department of Energy, year-to-date price adjustments on gasoline has reached P6.75 per liter, diesel at P9.15/L, and kerosene at P8.45/L. 

Some consumers have reached out to the group, according to Mr. Dimagiba, and gave suggestions on how the government can protect consumers. 

Some of the suggestions include the implementation of lower taxes and price controls, promotion of electric vehicles, and regulation of the oil industry.

“Some of these concrete and reasonable proposals from consumers are doable and can be done, if only the regulators have the political will to protect consumers from these unabated oil price hikes,” Mr. Dimagiba said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave