Diokno: Suspension of next fuel tax hike won’t affect gov’t social services program
admin • October 16, 2018 • 1834
FILE PHOTO: Benjamin Diokno
MANILA, Philippines —The economic managers of the Duterte administration have announced the early suspension of the second tranche of excise taxes on fuel under the tax reform for acceleration and inclusion or TRAIN Law.
This is to help bring down prices of oil and food and proactively anchor inflation expectations.
“It’s not for political reasons. It’s for good reasons; it’s according to the law,” Department of Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III said.
If this move pushes through in 2019, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno estimates that the government will lose around 40 to 41 billion pesos in revenue.
“Tinatawag naming may demonstration effect na yun, pag-announce mo pa lang. Hindi namin pababayan na tumaas pa (We call it demonstration effect just by making an announcement. We won’t let it increase further),” he said.
However, Secretary Diokno assured that the social services of the government, such as the unconditional and conditional cash transfer programs, will not be affected by the possible suspension of the next fuel excise tax.
Even the infrastructure program of the government, which is the primary beneficiary of the fuel excise tax hike, will not be affected.
“Hindi maaapektuhan kasi priority rin yun,” Diokno said.
Instead, the government will have budget cuts on some of its operating expenses for next year to offset the revenue loss.
“Yung mga purchase of vehicles and then yung filling up of positions, yun yung mga medyo nirereview naming (the purchase of vehicles and then the filling up of positions, those are the expenses that we review on),” he added.
For now, the economic managers have formed a task force to review the line items of the proposed 2019 national budget. — Rosalie Coz
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has called on the Department of Energy (DOE) to create a task force that will closely monitor the implementation of the new round of increases in excise tax on fuel.
Gatchalian made the call as the third and last tranche of tax hikes on petroleum products under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law took effect on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.
He said that under the TRAIN Law, the estimated rate impact on pump price for unleaded premium gasoline would be around ₱1.01 per liter, while the estimated rate impact of the third tranche of the excise tax on diesel price is ₱1.65 per liter.
For 100 percent coal contracted power distribution utilities, the estimated rate impact is around ₱0.03 per kilowatt hour.
The senator said the creation of the task force is aimed to protect consumers from premature price increases and profiteering.
“Kailangan paigtinging mabuti ng Department of Energy (DOE) ang pagbabantay laban sa hoarding at profiteering sa bansa ngayong nakaamba ang dagdag na excise tax sa huling pagkakataon,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
“Huwag na nating hayaan ang ilang mapagsamantalang retailers na ibenta sa mataas na halaga ang kanilang mga lumang imbentaryong produkto, gayong nabili nila ito bago pa man maimplementa ang third tranche ng excise tax sa fuel,” he added.
Gatchalian noted that local oil companies maintain a minimum inventory equivalent to 15-day supply of petroleum products as provided under DOE’s Department Circular No. 2003-01-001 or the Implementing Guidelines for the Minimum Inventory Requirements of Petroleum of Oil Companies and Bulk Suppliers.
The DOE earlier said the new round of fuel tax hikes are only applicable to new stocks imported beginning January 1, 2020. It also advised oil firms to deplete old stocks before implementing new price schemes reflecting the new levies.
Gatchalian also called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to monitor the prices of goods in the market in order to ensure that unscrupulous businessmen will not take advantage and pass on the impact of higher oil prices to consumers as a result of the third tranche of the TRAIN law implementation.
“Mabigat na sa bulsa ng bawat isa ang pagpataw ng excise tax sa krudo. Sana naman ay huwag na natin dagdagan ang pasanin ng taong bayan sa pamamagitan ng hindi makatarungang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga pangunahing bilihin,” he said.
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Transportation announced on Monday (December 30) on its official Facebook page that it has already distributed to more than 100,000 legitimate jeepney operators another round of fuel subsidy under the Pantawid Pasada Program (PPP).
Each operator received Php20,514.76, deposited to their Pantawid Pasada Cash card which they or their driver can use in purchasing fuel.
In total, the government has distributed more than Php2.2-Billion subsidy to jeepney operators nationwide.
The transport group, Pasang Masda, undermined the said government aid saying that such is not enough for the drivers and operators to recover from the effects of the additional excise tax on petroleum prices brought about by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
Pasang Masda president Obet Martin said a driver spends between Php1,500 and 2,000 every day for diesel.
Although the group admitted that the PPP aid could be of help to their sector, its effect on their expenditures is very minimal.
“So ilang araw lang yun? 10 days lang yun. So pagkatapos nun nganga ang driver. Tulong rin ito pero pansamantala lang,” he said.
The group believes that the only solution for them to recover from the heavy effect of the excise tax on petroleum products is the implementation of a fare hike on jeepneys.
The group, along with other transport groups, plans to file their petition before the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) in January 2020 which seeks to have the minimum jeepney fare raised to Php11.00.
The group clarified, however, that they are not opposed to the implementation of the TRAIN Law, as they see the benefits it brings to the government’s Build, Build, Build Program.
This early, the group seeks the commuting public’s understanding amid the impending filing of petition for a fare increase.
“Unawain nyo po ang aming katatayuan sapagkat kayo po ay inuunawa naming. Ayaw namin magtaas, subalit diktado ng pandaigdigang merkado yung pagtaas ng presyo ng petroleum products,” Martin said. (from the report of Joan Nano) /mbmf
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Friday reported that the country’s headline inflation finally eased within the two to four percent target range of the government in the first quarter of 2019.
BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the inflation further slowed to 3.8 percent from 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Inflation means the rate of increase in prices of goods and services.
The latest figure compares with the 3.8 percent inflation rate reported in the same quarter of 2018.
“Inflation is now within the target range of the government of 2 to 4 percent,” Diokno said at BSP’s inflation quarterly briefing in Manila on Friday.
The BSP said the improved food supply conditions in the first quarter of this year led to the deceleration of consumer prices in the country.
In the latest BSP quarterly inflation report, the March inflation rate settled at 3.3 percent as reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority last April 5. It was much slower than the 3.8 percent recorded in February and the lowest since January 2018 at 3.4 percent.
Based on data provided by the BSP, food inflation slowed to 4.1 percent from 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018.
The slower pace of increases in goods and services was driven by lower costs of food and non-alcoholic beverages, among others.
Although the inflation rate is broadly seen to slow further in the coming months, the agency said there could be price pressures should El Niño turn out longer than expected.
The BSP added that aside from the adverse impact of weather conditions such as El Niño, the volatile global oil prices and foreign exchange market, and higher electricity rates remain as the key upside risks to inflation.
“While the risks to the inflation outlook are assessed to be evenly balanced this year, the BSP notes that further risks could emerge from a prolonged El Niño weather condition and higher-than-expected increase in global oil and food prices. For 2020, the risks lean toward the downside amid a slowdown in global economic activity,” Diokno said.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) earlier announced that 11 provinces in Luzon and six provinces in the Visayas may experience drought by end of May due to prolonged weak El Niño.
Latest data from the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) showed damage and losses from the persistent weak El Niño to have reached P7.96 billion. This covers damage in 277,890 hectares of agricultural areas that have affected 247,610 farmers and fisherfolks.
BSP Assistant Governor Francisco Dakila, Jr., meanwhile, assured that they will be assessing the impact of the prolonged drought, as it may be counted as among the factors that could hasten price increases of basic goods. — Robie de Guzman (with details from April Cenedoza)
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