Wed. May 25th, 2022

As the government responds to provide stimulus for public utility vehicles and subsidies for farmers and fisherfolk, Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera on Thursday urged the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) to convene in the next several days so they can firm up their recommendation to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on the suspension of excise tax on oil amid the unabated fuel price hikes.

DBCC is not only authorized to suspend the excise tax on imported crude and fuel under Section 43 of the Republic Act 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, it can also set parameters and metrics on the implementation of the fuel tax suspension, adding that Section 43 does not limit how long the suspension can take effect.

In the upper house, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said he would support a special session in Congress to tackle legislation such as the suspension on excise tax amid the rising oil prices.

“Ang tanong diyan, papayag ba ‘yung finance managers natin dahil mayroon na silang projection for this year para sa collection nila? In the meantime that the price of oil is still unstable I will vote for temporary suspension,” Go added.

Go commended the executive branch for clearing the way for stimulus for about 377,000 public utility vehicles as the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) with a total of P2.5 billion release to the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

He also cited another P500 million for farmers and fishermen subsidy through the Department of Agriculture.

The senator also urged oil companies to avoid taking undue advantage by unnecessarily jacking up prices for profits.

Go said that in view the rising fuel prices, there have been calls to suspend the excise tax on petroleum products but President Duterte has not yet called for a special session of Congress—which is currently on break—to pass legislation suspending the excise tax.

The TRAIN law was implemented in January of 1918.

But when three months after a clamor for its suspension, Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua then said ““Should the price of Dubai crude based on the Means of Platts Singapore (MOPS) average, keep going up and the three-month average in the last quarter of this year hits $80 per barrel, we will be ready to activate the suspension mechanism for the next increase in January 2019.”

The prices of crude oil in the market perked from $70 per barrel last December 2021 to almost $130 on the first week of March 2022, mainly because of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Senator Go suggested that the option has to be readied because by presstime war on Ukraine is already hitting three weeks only but the prices have already almost doubled.

Today, he added, “negotiations for a ceasefire have started and while Europe has recoiled on the US demand for a total ban on Russia oil, Russia’s foreign minister had announced that should Europe join the US, Russia will be forced to raise this to $300 per barrel.”

Herrera said the proposed fuel tax suspension requires the recommendation of the DBCC and the Department of Finance. (PNA)

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