DACO extends gasoline price freeze
By John McPhaul
The Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO by its Spanish acronym) on Monday extended for 10 additional days the provisions of Order 2022-003, which froze the gross profit margins in the wholesale and retail sale of gasoline, diesel and liquefied gas.
DACO Secretary Edan Rivera Rodríguez said that for the time being, the measure was extended until Thursday, March 17.
“The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had great repercussions on the behavior of oil prices worldwide. The expectations are that the markets continue to rise, which implies constant fluctuations, mainly in gasoline,” Rivera Rodríguez said in a written statement. “This scenario makes it necessary to extend the validity of the freezing of profit margins. This measure flatly stopped price speculation in the local market, which is extremely necessary in situations of uncertainty such as the one we are experiencing.”
Since gross profit margins were frozen in the fuel industry in Puerto Rico, DACO has issued 29 fines to gasoline retailers and two liquefied gas sales centers. It also issued a fine to a gasoline wholesaler, as well as an order to show cause to a wholesale importer of liquefied gas. In addition, the agency rejected nine notifications of price increases by wholesale distributors of liquefied gas.
“The issue is being controlled from all angles,” the DACO chief said. “On the one hand, our inspectors have been and will continue to be on the streets, verifying that retailers respect the frozen margins, and that prices are not changed before receiving product at a new cost. Meanwhile, the Economic Studies Division has been in charge of verifying all the information provided by gasoline and liquefied gas wholesalers, comparing the information provided by each company with the behavior of the reference market.”
Rivera Rodríguez said the great impact that the war has had on the price of crude oil is largely due to the role that Russia has in the oil industry, with around 11% of the total oil export market.
“The sanctions that have been imposed on Russia, as well as those that are expected to be implemented soon, have had strong consequences on world oil prices,” he said. “However, world leaders are pondering possible measures that, in some way, could represent a relief to this situation. As an agency, our role is to remain vigilant in these situations and be responsible with the information that is transmitted to the consumer. That is why our reiterated call is to always consult official sources.” the secretary said.
Rivera Rodríguez also warned that, among the confidential tips received in the past few days, several have been related to the operation of gas pumps at some retail stations, as well as alleged problems involving altered products.
“These tips are being followed up on by personnel from the Weights and Measures Division,” he said. “At the moment, no irregularity has been identified. If any are detected, we will be disclosing that information, as we have done on previous occasions.”