P1 billion fuel subsidy not enough amid price hikes – Bayan

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
P1 billion fuel subsidy not enough amid price hikes â Bayan
This undated file photo shows a station attendant filling a customer's gas tank with fuel.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s planned P1-billion subsidy for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers weighed down by the series of oil price hikes is not enough, activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said yesterday.

“The reported P1-billion transport subsidy is not enough as it does not include other end-users of petroleum products,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes, who reiterated their call on government to scrap value-added tax (VAT) and reduce the excise tax on petroleum products.

Last Monday, the Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee announced that P1 billion will be transferred to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board for cash grants to at least 178,000 PUV drivers hurting from soaring fuel prices nationwide.

Reyes said the Duterte administration’s economic managers seem to be forgetting that all other sectors of society are affected by steep oil prices, including “household users, fisherfolk, the agricultural sector, those transporting food to the market and other end-users.”

“What government should do is to lower taxes on petroleum products so that the entire economy can benefit,” he said.

“The economic managers refuse to recognize how oppressive the oil taxes are. In the case of the VAT on oil, every time oil prices increase, the VAT increases because it is pegged at 12 percent. The government earns massive revenues from the suffering and misery of the people. This is unacceptable,” he added.

Bayan noted that since January, the price of gasoline has increased by almost P21 per liter and diesel by more than P18 per liter.

“This means windfall revenues for the Duterte government,” Reyes said.

“The VAT on oil products was a creation of the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2005. The huge excise tax on oil was a creation of the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) Law under Duterte. These measures squeeze the people dry and are oblivious to the plight of the poor,” he added.

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