DACO investigates whether importers are overcharging gasoline on the island

A price disclosure filed with the Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO) by wholesalers importing gasoline revealed a dislocation between the selling price of fuel on the island and prices in the underlying market, according to agency secretary Edan Rivera Rodriguez. …

The official clarified that as part of the October monitoring it was revealed that in September the price in Puerto Rico rose in response to the behavior of the reference market. However, when prices fell, the decline did not affect the filling stations. “So far this year we have faced such a situation for the first time, and it is for this reason that we are taking immediate measures to prevent this from happening again,” he said.

Upon learning of this, the official provided importers – Sol de Puerto Rico, Total, Puma Energy, Peerless and Best Petroleum – until Monday noon, October 18, an explanation of why the price in the reference market declines at certain times. – about 5% – not reflected in the price at which the fuel was sold at the island level. Failure to provide information will result in a fine of USD 10,000 per day.

While the reasons for the discrepancy are unclear, Association of Gasoline Retailers (ADG) President Rafael Mercado does not rule out that he will respond to a profit margin and price freeze to try to recoup the remaining profits piling up in the months of the COVID-19 emergency.

Mercado said DACO’s intervention is positive for the consumer, although we will have to wait to see what the agency will do in this regard.

“Our prices are tied to what the wholesalers sell to us. We are not protesting. We understand that DACO will be supervised, ”the retailer explained.

Regarding the reasons for the price changes, Héctor Roman, director of economic research at DACO, explained that if the documents provided by the wholesalers reflect that they will not follow the trend of the reference market, they will have to completely rewrite. the gasoline market to find alternatives that increase competitiveness in this segment.

“We will continue to improve transparency so that there is competition, and we will continue to analyze how prices are set so that the market itself corrects,” Roman said.

The head of DACO also added that they do not rule out the imposition of an order to fix the price or profit margin if necessary.

They are demanding speed in order to pass new rules for vehicle inspection centers.

“We are at the stage of requesting information and we do not want to foresee what we are going to do until we know the details of the price discrepancy,” Rivera said, acknowledging that the specialized media have already disclosed that this phenomenon exists all over the world, where profit margins higher than usual as a strategy to recover the income they lost during the pandemic.

“At the moment, there is no specific prohibition on profit margins or selling prices,” he said.

Faced with DACO’s lawsuit, Mario Sierra, CEO of Puma Energy, assured that they received a request from the agency yesterday afternoon for information that justifies the price of gasoline.

“We are working on responding to this request and collecting information over the past 60–90 days to demonstrate that Puma Energy, as in the past, has acted in line with market developments. We are constantly changing the price, and it depends on the market trend, ”said Sierra.

This anomaly manifests itself when the price of fuel approaches 90 cents per liter of regular gasoline.

IS TALKING dealt with the reactions of other wholesalers, but at the time of publication in the press, these efforts were unsuccessful.

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