The soaring prices of gas

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak - The Philippine Star

In the global economy in which we live and work, it’s never really someone else’s war. While many Filipinos may feel that the war in Ukraine is far removed from them, the reality is we’re all impacted by what’s happening now and the longer this goes on, the more we’re going to feel the pinch.

Frankly, what we are experiencing is nothing compared to what the poor people caught in the immediate crossfires are feeling. However, it’s no longer correct to say that war being waged miles and miles away isn’t going to impact our daily lives. The world has become too small to say that not everything that affects trade allies and partners will not impact us. The immediate impact is already happening, and that’s the continuing increase in gas prices.

This, along with the proven productivity of working from home, are poignant reasons that most workers want to stay put for however long they can. Forward-thinking companies aren’t rushing back to the way things were and are working instead on creating a resilient hybrid system allowing workers to stay remote when possible. This is a big help as gas prices are at an all-time high.

Pump prices have already been steadily rising in the past several months. Motorists are already feeling the pinch as alert levels have decreased and traffic has resumed. Add to that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and crude oil prices are just going to continue to increase.

Over the weekend, news already spread of oil prices going up roughly P3 to P5 per liter this week. The impact of this will be severe. Alongside private cars, public transportation will need to adjust the minimum fare price and seating capacity of their vehicles. While this is understandable, the flip side is that more people will once again be crammed shoulder to shoulder in vehicles, potentially causing more localized spikes or virus spreading among commuters.

But there honestly isn’t a ready solution. Some lawmakers are trying for a 12 percent VAT suspension on petroleum products alongside reversing oil deregulation and preparing fuel subsidies for the public transport sector. While all of these may help momentarily, the reality is these remedies are all putting a band-aid on a bullet wound, and the increase is inevitable and unavoidable. Stop gap solutions won’t work forever.

As long as the conflict continues, there will be an inevitable oil price impact worldwide. As it stands, countries around the world are still attempting to avoid a wider war (which could result in nuclear weapons) by not sending troops and military forces to Ukraine to curb the Russian invasion.

Instead, the allies and some surprising additions are trying to hit Russia where they feel they can do the most damage without escalating the war – in their bank accounts. Both Mastercard and Visa have stopped operations in Russia, while Switzerland (despite a history of remaining neutral) has joined other states in cutting Russian banks out of the global SWIFT financial messaging service. They have even adopted the EU sanctions on Russia, including freezing the bank accounts of Putin and his key players.

Many other countries are also doing their part to stop the conflict. Germany and Finland are sending anti-tank weapons and missiles to Ukraine. Other countries like Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, and more have also committed to send protective equipment, weapons, and aid.

At this point, all the non-boots on the ground help is being exhausted by the allies as they find ways to cripple Russia’s ability to afford this war. However, despite all of that, Russia still has a much stronger military might than Ukraine, coupled with a history of military conquest. Can they suffer through global isolation? Maybe. At this point, no one can accurately predict what Putin will do next. And that’s the terrifying part.

Whatever happens now will define the way the world works. I still hope for a peaceful end to this conflict, and many countries feel the same. Even the citizens of Russia feel it too, as their lives are also heavily impacted daily. Protests against the war have been happening regularly, and Moscow has responded by arresting protestors. We still have a way to go before we see the end of this. Hopefully, it will be a peaceful one.

As for us here, we’re getting a better understanding of how conflict on a global scale impacts our daily life. As we continue to mitigate the rising oil prices, I hope that companies here can help everyone by finding the most efficient ways to work.

Remote work has already been proven to be efficient. If creating hybrid options can help people from to commuting or driving every day, that would be a big help – not just in letting people save on gas, but also in helping minimize our carbon footprint. We need to have a sustainable and resilient mindset going forward. If possible, let’s not cram the roads with jampacked vehicles again. Let’s keep looking for more sustainable solutions.




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