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Lawmaker to re-file bill suspending fuel excise tax

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Lawmaker to re-file bill suspending fuel excise tax
An attendant fills up a tricycle with gasoline at a petrol station in Manila on March 15, 2022.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — A senior administration lawmaker yesterday vowed to re-file his proposed bill that aims to suspend the collection of excise taxes on diesel, gasoline, cooking gas and other oil fuel products in the incoming 19th Congress (2022-2025).

“The suspension will bring immediate relief to our people,” Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said, following the latest imposition by oil firms of a new round of price hikes for diesel and a reduction in the cost of gasoline.

“Enacting the bill will cut pump prices by P6 per liter for diesel, P3 per kilogram for liquefied petroleum gas, P5 for kerosene and P5.65 per liter for gasoline,” Cagayan de Oro City’s second district congressman added.

“Let’s not add to our people’s financial burden,” Rodriguez said, even as prices are expected to go up because of the European Union’s decision to ban 90 percent of its oil imports from Russia by the end of the year.

The cost of crude oil in the international market has jumped to more than $110 per barrel following the EU’s decision.

The House leader said he would re-file his bill that would shelve the collection of fuel taxes for four years, during which he expects the economy to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and effects of the Ukraine-Russia war.

Rodriguez added that his suspension proposal covers only the tax increase imposed under Section 43 of Republic Act 10963, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

He pointed out that under his proposal, the government would continue collecting the old rates of excise tax on oil products.

Rodriguez said his bill would benefit all sectors of the economy, including tourism and aviation, which are among the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“They will benefit, because our proposal would also reduce the tax on aviation fuel and other oil products tourism and aviation-related businesses are using,” he said.

He said his proposed law would also cover bunker fuel oil, which is being used for generating electricity and whose tax under the TRAIN Law is P6 per liter.

Its approval would result in lower cost of travel, which should be good for tourists, and in electricity as well, in addition to reduced cost of goods, he added.

At the same time, Rodriguez opposed the proposal of the Department of Finance (DOF) to impose new taxes or increase existing rates to raise funds to pay the country’s P12.7-trillion debt.

Fuel subsidy

Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) has reiterated its call for immediate distribution of fuel subsidy to municipal fisherfolk affected by the series of oil price hikes.

In a press statement yesterday, Pamalakaya said that latest data by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showing a decline in fisheries production in the first quarter of the year is “all the more reason to roll out and ramp up the fuel subsidy to encourage the rural sectors to return to the wheels of production.”

In its latest report, the PSA said that fisheries production declined by 0.2 percent to 971,501 metric tons in the first quarter of 2022 from 973,620 MT in the same period last year.

Pamalakaya national chairman Fernando Hicap blamed the decline in fisheries production on the Duterte administration’s supposed inaction on oil price manipulation and “little to no fuel subsidy” to fishers and farmers which, Hicap said, has pushed them further to bankruptcy.

“For the record, the latest low fisheries productivity is on Duterte who failed to address the issue of overpricing of oil products and just resorted to meager subsidies. He merely brushed over the fraudulent practices of oil companies on price manipulation and overpricing,” he said.

Pamalakaya pointed out that a significant number employed in the fishing sector were forced to leave their livelihood due to skyrocketing prices of fuel.

The group lamented that 80 percent of the production expenses in a small-scale fishing operation goes to fuel. – Elizabeth Marcelo

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