• Palace concerned over ‘domino effect’ on prices


    PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd is deeply concerned about the “domino effect” the impending power, fuel and fare hikes might cast on the prices of basic commodities so that he ordered his Cabinet to come out with measures to cushion its impact on consumers, a Palace official said on Friday.

    In a press briefing, Deputy Presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said the chief executive was well aware of the problems that would entail these rate hikes.

    “There are discussions in place on how to cushion the impact of the impending increases and such. So, of course, we are aware of like, as you mentioned, that there is possibly an effect that will go down the line and that will eventually be shouldered by the end users, which is why the President has given instructions on how to . . . cushion effects of the hikes,” Valte said.

    She added that the president has instructed several Cabinet secretaries to “explore several avenues” that would “go the way of cushioning these effects.”

    Valte, however, claimed details of the discussions were not yet available as of the moment because these “should be looked at with thoroughness.”

    “I would just mention that haste makes waste. These are very important issues that need to be looked at with a thoroughness that the gravity of the issue dictates,” she said.

    “So we understand that there is also a need to come up with something, at least to present to the consumers at this point. However, these discussions are fairly new, fairly young, and rest assured that this is—the Cabinet secretaries are giving it the appropriate attention as directed by the President,” she added.

    Power rates are expected to climb to a “historic high” rate of more than P4 per kilowatt hour due to the maintenance closure of the Malampaya gas plant and the compounding problem of more power plants’ shutdown also because of supposed routine repairs.

    Besides power, transport groups sought an increase in fare due to a rise in fuel pump prices while the Department of Transportation and Communications held a consultation meeting with stakeholders for a planned increase in train fares.

    Observers said these increments pose a twin risks to end users who have to pay additional utility fees and higher prices of other commodities since businessmen are likely to pass on these added burden to consumers.

    “At least when it comes to the increase in electricity rates, I understand that there is supposed to be staggering that is proposed, at least, by Meralco on this. And I understand that the third tranche of it would be implemented in January,” Valte said.


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