Pros and cons

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

I couldn't help but notice the price of regular diesel fuel today. It was less than twenty pesos per liter. Gasoline was also low at less than thirty-five pesos to a liter. I can't seem to remember when the prices of fuel were this low. Not that I'm complaining, you understand. I am also certain that owners of diesel-run vehicles are as happy as a clam nowadays.

There is an oversupply of crude oil in the market, with production not slowing down. Normally, the oil-producing countries that practically hold the whole world by the gonads would cut down production to maintain prices. But with the slowing down of large economies like China, maintaining a high price may be a self-inflicting wound. So we are now awash with oil, so to speak.

This is also the explanation given for several things. Car sales have gone exponentially up in the past year. More than three hundred thousand brand-new units sold if I'm not mistaken. And where do you see all these brand new cars? On the road, of course. What's the use of cheap fuel and a new car if you don't drive it all the time? Hence the monstrous traffic we now enjoy. That's three hundred thousand more cars on the road. Projections for this year are at half a million units, being an election year. Yikes!

Fares of public utility vehicles have gone down, or should go down. Taxi flagdown rates are being readied. There are calls for App-based transport companies to also lower their prices. But retailers are resisting a lowering of prices, citing the revenue they lose from both congestion at the ports to severe traffic to the peso-dollar exchange rate. They also claim that delivery vehicles have not lowered their prices since they even consume more fuel when caught in traffic. Of course we are going to hear all the creative reasoning to maintain prices. 

There is a downside to all this cheap oil. Countries whose economies are heavily dependent on the sale of oil are now affected, such as Saudi Arabia. And what do you find in most oil-producing Middle Eastern countries? Our overseas workers. Indeed, some companies have had to downsize because of a protracted economy brought about by the low price of oil. Workers could not get their contracts renewed or are outright terminated. This is a concern for all our OFWs, since there is no telling when the price of oil would rebound. Should this trend continue, we risk having a lot of unemployed workers coming back home to nothing. Unthinkable.

Like the old saying goes, damned if you do, damned if you don't.

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