• The San Juan Daily Star

DACO orders gasoline companies to explain high prices

By John McPhaul

The island Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO by its Spanish acronym) on Wednesday ordered Sol de Puerto Rico, Total, Puma, Peerless and Best Petroleum to prove why certain periods of low prices in the reference market were not reflected in the prices at which they sold fuel locally.

DACO Secretary Edan Rivera Rodríguez detailed in a written statement that “monitoring allows us to contrast the price information submitted by gasoline importers with that of the reference market.”

“Although, at the moment, a price freeze is not in force, this is something we do every month, specifically to assess whether any type of intervention is appropriate,” he said.

Rivera Rodríguez specified that “as part of the October monitoring, we identified that, in September, prices in Puerto Rico rose in response to the behavior of the reference market.”

“However, when prices fell, the reduction was not reflected locally,” he said. “So far this year it is the first time that we have come across this situation; and, precisely for this reason, we take immediate action, to ensure that something like this is not repeated.”

The five gasoline importing companies have until noon on Monday to comply with the requirement, which “arises as a result of a worrying finding, identified as part of the monthly monitoring carried out by the DACO Economic Studies Division,” Rivera Rodríguez said.

The request issued Wednesday by DACO’s Economic Affairs Division orders the five gasoline importing companies to justify why, despite the fact that the reference market suffered a significant drop in the first days of September, the sale price in Puerto Rico did not adapt to that reality, and remained unchanged until the next hike.

“We are aware that local prices are subject to fluctuations in the reference market. But it cannot be that, for the moment, it is intended that these fluctuations are reflected only in the rise, ignoring casualties,” the DACO chief said. “We are talking about a basic necessity product; and, therefore, we will continue to be active, ensuring that there is no type of irregularity.”

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