Philippines seeks gasoline price cut with higher ethanol blend

October 24, 2023 - 3:01 PM
File photo of gasoline refill. (The STAR / File)
  • Government says increase in ethanol blend to 20% voluntary
  • Government wants ‘trigger period’ for fuel subsidies shortened

 The Philippine government aims to lower domestic pump prices for gasoline by calling for a higher ethanol blend of 20% on a voluntary basis, from the current mandatory 10%, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said on Tuesday.

In a press briefing, Lotilla said increasing the ethanol blend will result in a more than one peso per liter reduction in the price of gasoline.

The government has discussed the measure with local oil companies and is aiming to get approval from the Biofuels Board by end-2023, said Lotilla, who also chairs the regulatory body.

“This is primarily a price-mitigation measure because (imported) ethanol is especially important as it is cheaper than the price of gasoline,” he said.

It was among several measures discussed during a meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., which also include shortening the “trigger period” for providing subsidies to the public transport sector, and simplifying the requirements, the minister added.

Under the annual budget program, the government only provides subsidies when the benchmark Dubai oil price stays above $80 per barrel for three months.

The government now wants to release the subsidies based on a shorter trigger period of one month, Lotilla said.

The Southeast Asian country is battling inflation, which in September accelerated to 6.1% on an annual basis, the fastest pace in four months and still well above the central bank’s target range of 2% to 4%.

– Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Stephen Coates