In less than a week since the last increase in fuel prices, fuel companies in the CNMI have raised their prices again by another 15 cents.
Last Friday, Mobil Oil Mariana Islands Inc. took the lead again in the fourth price hike, raising their per gallon of Extra and Supreme fuel. Shell Marianas followed suit last Saturday morning.
Gas prices went up from $3.53 for a gallon of Extra fuel to $3.68 per gallon, while the Supreme fuel went from $3.98 per gallon to $4.13. The lowest price of fuel in the CNMI before the government shutdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was at $3.83.
A 55-year-old motorist who lives in Tanapag said she is no longer shocked. “Even before the pandemic, gas prices are always going up during this time of year. I’m not amazed anymore. I remember gas was almost $5 before the pandemic, so it’s still low for now,” she said.
AG: Report price gouging
As for price increases in groceries, the Office of the Attorney General is calling on people to report price gouging through the OAG website, http://cnmioag.org.
In an interview, Attorney General Edward Manibusan revealed that their office, during this time of COVID-19, has been receiving multiple complaints on price gouging, particularly on stores raising prices of food and items, especially related to sanitation such as hand sanitizers and face masks.
“Our Investigative Division has been very busy with complaints regarding price gouging. We had a number of complaints either through our website, or through people just calling in to say that the stores have raised the prices of hand sanitizers and face masks, medicines and food,” he said. “We were able to go out and investigate those. We’ve actually issued a number of cease and desist orders.”
Manibusan advised people who are complaining to furnish documents that support the complaint. “There are people that actually file complaints in this office but just say who he or she was and what’s the issue—basically a general complaint. We can’t do anything about that. If you have a complaint, it’d be nice to have some document that goes with it. It would help with the investigation. It will help with the speed of the investigation,” he said.
The attorney general also shared that their website has a hotline, http://www.cnmioag.org/hotline/, where consumer complaints are also accepted, adding that people can just “fill out the application and submit it”, where they will get notified right away, and from there, start an investigation.
Consumers can also submit complaint via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or via phone at 237-7627. (With Iva Maurin)