By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter
AS FUEL PRICES continued to climb this week, at least two ride-hailing and delivery service providers said they currently do not have plans to increase their rates.
They have also started taking steps to ease the pain at the pump for their drivers, such as providing incentives and fuel discounts.
“No, we don’t intend to increase our pricing. We’re also under a technical working group regulatory framework which has our price pegged at a certain rate per kilometer, but we are not talking to them to push for any type of increase,” Angkas Chief Executive Officer George I. Royeca told BusinessWorld in a phone interview on Tuesday.
For its part, online delivery firm foodpanda Philippines said: “We are assessing the situation regarding adjustment in pricing. Our priority now is the welfare of the riders and easing the burden of rising fuel costs.”
Pump prices went up for an 11th straight week on Tuesday. Fuel retailers raised gasoline and diesel prices by P7.10 and P13.15 per liter, respectively.
To encourage drivers to continue working, Mr. Royeca said the company gives cash incentives, especially if they reach certain targets or number of rides.
However, he admitted the sky-high fuel prices are “definitely a cause for concern.”
“But I think this is one of the times when we are more thankful that we are in the motorcycle business because the fuel efficiency of motorcycles is much better than any other vehicle. Hopefully that will translate to more people, maybe at this time, looking for an alternative mode of transportation to get from point A to point B,” Mr. Royeca said.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has said it would start the distribution of the fuel subsidy to 377,443 beneficiaries this week. Each one is expected to receive P6,500.
“The initial batch is really meant for the delivery guys, and we are working to expand it to include the drivers,” Mr. Royeca said. “I’m currently working on this with the Department of Information and Communications Technology, which is the one facilitating this program.”
Meanwhile, foodpanda is ramping up efforts to ease the burden of the rising gas prices on its riders through fuel discounts and other initiatives.
“We already have existing partnerships with several fuel providers, including Seaoil, Caltex, Phoenix and Unioil. In the case of Unioil, it has partnered with foodpanda to co-subsidize an enhanced and exclusive fuel discount for foodpanda riders up to P10 per liter since March 1,” the company told BusinessWorld in an e-mailed reply to questions on Monday.
It has also teamed up with the PriceLOCQ app that allows its partner riders to enjoy P4 per liter discounts and other vouchers.
The company said it is working with its partners to expand the gas discounts to more locations and riders.
Foodpanda said it is now finalizing a list of its riders who will be eligible to get fuel subsidies from the government.
“While this is being finalized, we continue to look at how foodpanda can provide more help to riders through discounts, loans, and other subsidies, to support them through these challenging times,” it added.
Grab Philippines announced last week its “P25-million Partner Assistance Fund” this year for its Grab drivers and delivery partners. This is expected to help them “overcome the adverse impacts of natural calamities and ongoing macroeconomic conditions.”
The company said it is also extending working capital loans and working closely with the government to revisit existing fare and fee structures.