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May 22, 2008

Govt scraps import duties on crude oil

The Philippine government on Thursday scrapped all import duties on crude oil in a move it hopes will lead to a drop in pump prices, the country's energy secretary was quoted by AFP as saying in a report.

"I just signed a certification that we're reducing the tariff on imported crude and refined oil products to zero percent effective June 1," Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes told ANC television.

The tariffs were at one percent, down from a previous three percent. The reductions were made in a bid to cut pump prices here, with the public already experiencing the pinch from rising inflation.

While the zero tariff would "not be felt immediately" by the public, Reyes said he had talked to oil refiners and told them it should "affect pump prices" soon. The Philippines is a net importer of oil.

Reyes noted that experts had predicted the price of oil would rise to between 150 and 200 dollars per barrel between now and 2010. "This is something that we should gear up for," Reyes said. "This is something that we can't just wish away. This is reality (and we should) take the necessary long-term measures."

Reyes added that the government was also moving towards cutting the country's dependency on imported oil by boosting renewable sources of energy.

Oil broke through 135 dollars a barrel for the first time on Thursday, following unexpected drops in US crude and gasoline stocks in a tight market, dealers said.

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