By DAWN CECILIA PEÑA
MANILA – Farmers and fisherfolk groups reiterated the need for aid as the incessant oil price hikes have significant impacts on their production and cost of living.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said in a statement that oil price hikes directly affect farmers as producers who use fuel for agricultural machines. The common machines used by farmers, hand tractors and threshers, require fuel and oil. Each oil price hike has an impact on the cost of the production of grains and other agricultural products, the group said.
Government data revealed that the total net increase is at P7.95 ($0.15) per liter for gasoline, P10.20 ($.20) per liter of diesel and P9.10 ($0.17) per liter for kerosene.
There are reports that another round of oil price hikes is slated next week.
KMP said that a hectare of rice fields needs approximately 600 liters of fuel for a rotavator, a machine used for seed bed preparation, and hand tractor per harvest. While fuel-efficient irrigation pumps need 150 liters of fuel per harvest.
“By calculation, the almost P10 ($0.19) per liter increase in the price of gasoline from January to March 1 added P7,500 ($144) per hectare in additional cost per harvest. Once the mega big-time oil price hike is imposed, the cost of agricultural crude oil will increase from P10,125 ($195) to P11,250 ($216),” KMP added.
Farmers’ cost of living is also affected as traders have to transport produce from farm or warehouse to the market using vehicles that require fuel and oil.
For fishermen, oil and gasoline make up 80 percent of their production costs
Meanwhile, small-scale fisherfolk in Zambales, where a liter of diesel is now at P56 ($1), increased their crude oil expenses from P7,200 ($139) per month to P8,960 ($172) per month in 2021.
“Small-scale fishermen who regularly consume about 10 liters of diesel now need P560 ($11) per day or a total of P8,960 ($172) for every 16 fishing days. This is equivalent to a P1,760 ($34) increase in monthly production cost,” said Pamalakaya.
For LPG users, the price of an 11-kilogram LPG tank has increased by more than P110 ($2) this year, while the increase in the price and cost of kerosene commonly used by farmers and fishermen has not yet been counted.
5-point solution to address the oil crisis
Because of this, the groups propose a five-point action plan to alleviate the implications of successive oil price hikes:
1. Immediately suspend excise tax and VAT on petroleum products;
2. Return to the regulation of the downstream oil industry and repeal the Oil Deregulation Law;
3. Provide immediate and adequate assistance – fuel subsidy and fuel vouchers to the affected sectors;
4. Provide cash aid worth P10,000 ($192) and production subsidies worth P15,000 ($288) to the affected sectors; and
5. Set a price ceiling on basic and prime commodities. (JJE, RTS, RVO)