(STAR) Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. warned yesterday that the country would not be able to protect itself from the global economic crisis if Congress fails to pass this year’s proposed P1.415-trillion national budget.

“Imbedded in the budget is the armor our economy needs,” he said.

Economic managers are projecting a 3.7-percent to 4.7-percent growth this year.

Andaya said a significant portion of the P300-billion economic plan would come from the proposed outlay for infrastructure and social projects.

The government would resort to using savings of departments from their budgets and streamline bidding and disbursement procedures to continue implementing projects, he added.

The P300-billion plan announced in December is a stimulus package to shield the country from the global economic crisis.

It includes the P100-billion joint public and private infrastructure program that President Arroyo said would spur the country’s economic activity.

At the Senate, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sen. Edgardo Angara said senators will give priority to the 2009 General Appropriations Bill and 22 other measures when Congress resumes session next week.

The two senators said the passage of the national budget would help the country weather the global financial crisis and provide jobs and other assistance to the people. – Paolo Romero, Aurea Calica

LPG price up by P2 per kilo amid shortage By Donnabelle L. Gatdula Updated January 14, 2009 12:00 AM

[PHOTO AT LEFT - Despite an ‘out-of-stock’ notice, a customer waits to refill his LPG tank at the Auto LPG refilling station along Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City yesterday. BOY SANTOS]

(STAR) Amid apparent massive shortage in liquefied petroleum gas or cooking gas, major suppliers have raised their LPG prices by P2 per kilo or P22 per 11-kg cylinder.

The increase was triggered by the rise in the LPG international contract prices to $380 per metric ton from $336.50 per MT.

Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. vice president for communications Roberto Kanapi said they implemented the increase at 12:01 a.m. yesterday.

The P2 per kg increase did not include the value-added tax (VAT) computation.

“The LPG price increase was prompted by higher acquisition costs, amid supply tightness in the region. The contract price for LPG increased by $40/metric ton in January 2009,” Kanapi said.

He clarified that the region is currently experiencing shortage in LPG supply as a result of seasonal high sales during the peak winter heating season, lower LPG production from refinery shutdowns in China and the indirect effect of the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute.

Shell, however, continues to assure its customers that it has adequate and continued supply of LPG amid regional supply concerns.

“Despite supply tightness in Asia Pacific, our Shellane customers can be assured of continued supply,” Kanapi said.

Shell takes pride in the fact that they are the only company in the Philippines with a refinery and being Southeast Asia’s largest LPG import terminal.

These two supply points guarantee steady and reliable supply of LPG.

Shell is the pioneer marketer of LPG in the world with over 50 years of experience. In the Philippines, the Shellane brand has been around for over 35 years.

Petron Corp., Liquigaz and Total Philippines have yet to follow Shell’s move.

But Petron, in a separate statement, assured its customers that it had adequate LPG supply to serve their requirements.

According to Petron, an LPG carrier carrying 2,000 MT was arriving today at its Bataan refinery and they are expecting additional shipments in the next few days.

Five additional shipments totaling more than 12,000 MT are arriving within the month at the Bataan refinery.

Several shipments totaling more than 5,000 MT are also expected at the Petron terminal in Batangas before the month ends.

“Contrary to the statements made by some players that there is a shortage in the market, our LPG supply is normal and we have been making regular deliveries to our customers,” Petron public affairs manager Virginia Ruivivar said.

“We saw an increase in LPG demand, particularly in December, but we have managed to satisfy even the incremental demand,” she added.

Petron also added that it recently opened its Limay and Pasig terminals to an inspection by the Department of Energy (DOE) to show that operations are normal and inventory was adequate.

Oil firms roll back gas prices by P50¢ By Donnabelle Gatdula Updated January 14, 2009 12:00 AM

(STAR) Oil companies announced yesterday the first price rollback of pump prices this year.

Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., and Chevron Philippines Inc. said they would cut the prices of their gasoline, diesel and kerosene products by 50 centavos per liter.

PTT Philippines Inc., on the other hand, announced a P1 per liter price reduction.

As of Jan. 13, 2009, the price of unleaded gasoline stood at P29 to P32.46 per liter while diesel was priced at P27.70 to P32.50 per liter.

“We are just implementing the prices in the pumps to reflect the downturn of the global prices, at the same time,” PTT marketing officer Roby Tanjuatco told reporters.

“We also have to protect our trading area in order to be competitive and of course, this is for public support,” Tanjuatco said.

Shell, meanwhile, said that the recent price reduction was not part of the supposed weekly adjustments that they would start to undertake this year.

“The latest rollback reflects Shell’s continuing assessment of oil price movements as it transitions towards weekly price adjustments,” Kanapi said.

As earlier announced, Shell aims to move towards greater pricing transparency by reflecting weekly movements of product prices and foreign exchange.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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