Pantawid Pasada Program touted as 'economically viable' vs fuel excise tax suspension

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Pantawid Pasada Program touted as 'economically viable' vs fuel excise tax suspension
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian believes that having an integrated version of the Pantawid Pasada Program is more practical compared to the suspension of fuel excise taxes, as the country experiences continuous hikes in oil prices. 
The STAR / Boy Santos, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs his chamber's energy committee, said having an integrated version of the Pantawid Pasada Program for operators of public utility vehicles (PUVs) is more practical compared to the suspension of fuel excise taxes, amid the continuous hikes in oil prices. 

Estimates from his office showed that the Pantawid Pasada will only cost the government P1.94 billion if it offers fuel cards to all PUVs. Meanwhile, suspending fuel excise taxes will incur foregone revenues of P271.24 billion.

In a statement on Wednesday, the lawmaker said having an institutionalized Pantawid Pasada is more "economically viable as against the idea of suspension of excise taxes on fuel which Finance department has described to be inequitable and detrimental to the country’s economic recovery and long-term growth."

"This is a tried and tested program already. We have done it in the past, in many of the aberrations in world oil prices,” Gatchalian said, referring to the Pantawid Pasada. 

At present, the program has received a P2.5 billion allocation for its continued implementation this year.

Gatchalian said he is thinking of filing a bill institutionalizing the program to address the impacts of the oil price hikes on vulnerable sectors. He also proposed the use of e-wallets for the timely transfer and receipt of fuel subsidies.

Other senators support moratorium on fuel excise tax collections

Gatchalian made his stance shortly after two presidential bets—  who are also senators—  Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and Manny Pacquiao expressed their support to suspend the collection of excise taxes on petroleum products. 

READ: 2 senators support call to suspend excise taxes on fuel as prices rise

Pacquiao said he will support any move by the Upper House in holding a special session which will tackle the halting of the fuel excise tax collection. Meanwhile, Lacson said that putting a halt on the collection of fuel excise taxes is a "good idea" which will greatly help motorists and other members of the transportation sector.

The House of Representatives already passed a bill seeking a moratorium on the collection of such taxes. 

The excise tax on gasoline currently stands at P10 per liter, P6 per liter for diesel, and P5 per liter for kerosene, according to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, which was implemented in three tranches beginning 2018. 

Last week, activist group Anakpawis urged President Rodrigo Duterte to impose price controls on all petroleum products through an executive order and require oil firms to open their books of accounts to the public. 

This week, local pump prices rose for the eighth consecutive week, as gasoline went up by by P0.8 per liter, diesel by P0.65 per liter; and kerosene by P0.45 per liter. 

The Department of Energy earlier attributed the sustained hike in oil prices to tight supply in the global market, adding that geopolitical tensions between Ukraine and Russia may be one of the factors in causing the supply disruptions. 

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