DOE urged to create body to monitor new round of fuel tax hikes

Robie de Guzman   •   January 2, 2020   •   899

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.

BIR urged to suspend imposition of tax hike on private schools

Robie de Guzman   •   June 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday called on the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to suspend the imposition of a 25 percent corporate income tax on private schools, warning that the added burden on struggling institutions amid the coronavirus pandemic could lead to more school closures, job losses, and a more restricted access to education.

In a statement, Gatchalian said BIR’s Revenue Regulation (RR) 5-2021 runs counter to the intention of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act or the CREATE Act (Republic Act No. 11534) which seeks to impose a one percent tax rate on proprietary educational institutions for a three-year period.

The law also provides that these institutions have to pay ten percent tax on their taxable income, he added.

Under the CREATE Law, ‘proprietary’ means a private hospital or private school maintained and administered by private individuals or groups. These institutions should have an issued permit to operate from the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

But based on RR 5-2021, proprietary educational institutions have to be non-profit to avail of the reduced tax rate.

“If these rules are imposed, private schools’ income tax rate would increase by 150 percent,” said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.

In an earlier statement, Gatchalian called the tax rule “ill-timed” considering how private schools are trying to stay afloat.

The senator cited the March 2021 Labor Force Survey, which showed that the education sub-industry had the largest decrease in the number of employed persons from February to March 2021 at 248,000.

He noted that last February, DepEd reported that 929 private schools did not operate for the school year (SY) 2020-2021. The Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) also said in a statement that enrollment in private K-12 schools dropped by over 900,000 compared to the previous school year.

“Sa panahong karamihan sa ating mga private schools ay nahihirapang magpatuloy ng operasyon sa gitna ng pandemya, hindi napapanahon at hindi tamang patawan natin sila ng karagdagang buwis bilang dagdag pasanin,” Gatchalian said.

The senator likewise said that he is mulling to file a resolution that would urge the BIR to suspend the imposition of the tax hike on private schools.

 

Red alert sa Luzon power grid, posibleng itaas hanggang sa susunod na linggo — DOE

Robie de Guzman   •   June 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Posibleng muling ilagay sa red alert status ang Luzon power grid sa susunod na linggo dahil sa problema sa supply ng kuryente.

Sa pagdinig ngayong Biyernes ng House Committee on Energy, sinabi ng Department of Energy (DOE) na maaaring maging mahigpit pa rin ang supply ng kuryente kung hindi pa magbabalik-operasyon ang alinman sa mga plantang nagsagawa ng emergency maintenance.

“Ano naman yung ating nakikita for the next weeks? Yung end of this week hanggang next week, nakikita na kung walang makakapasok na planta, below the red line pa rin tayo,” ang wika ni Energy Undersecretary Mario Marasigan.

“So kulang pa rin yung ating regulating reserves, magkakaroon pa rin tayo ng red alert,” dagdag pa niya.

Bagaman ilalagay sa yellow alert ang power grid, tiniyak naman ng DOE na hindi na magpapatupad ng rotational brownouts.

Noong Mayo 31, at Hunyo 1 hanggang 2 ay isinailalim sa red at yellow alerts ang Luzon power grid dahil sa mataas na demand at mababang power supply.

Paliwanag ni Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, sapat ang supply ng kuryente bago nangyari ang rotational brownout ngunit nagkasabay ang pagtaas ng demand dahil sa mainit na panahon at pagbagsak ng ilang planta.

Aniya, ang iba sa mga planta sa bansa ay luma na ay kailangan na ng madalas na maintenance.

Nakadagdag pa sa delay ng maintenance ng mga planta ang hindi agad pagdating ng spare parts at technical personnel dahil sa pandemya.

“Ito pong pagkawala, the last 2 days ng supply is because po yung pagka sabay-sabay ng pagkasira nung 4 na malalaking planta po. That we lost around 2,000 megawatts,” ang wika ni Cusi.

Samantala, sinabi naman ng Energy Regulatory Commission na pinagpapaliwanag na nito ang nasa 35 generation companies dahil sa pagdami ng unplanned outages mula buwan ng Enero hanggang Abril ngayong taon.

Ayon kay ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera, 13 sa mga ito ang tumugon sa kanilang direktiba habang ang iba naman ay idinahilan umano ang pagiging luma ng kanilang mga planta at delay sa proseso ng maintenance.

Kasama rin aniya sa iniimbestigahan ng ERC ang posibilidad na sabwatan o pananabotahe sa supply ng kuryente upang pataasin ang presyo nito.

“Kung wala namang maibibigay na ebidensya ay hindi naman namin pwedeng tanggapin yung ganun. So ang nararapat na kaparusahan ay kailangan ipataw naming,” ang wika ni Devanadera.

Sa huling linggo ng Hunyo at sa pagpasok pa ng buwan ng Hulyo inaasahan ng DOE na maibabalik sa normal ang supply ng kuryente kapag nagbalik-operasyon na ang mga nag-shutdown na plant at bumaba na ang konsumo. RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rey Pelayo)

Energy chief apologizes for Luzon brownouts; says probe on possible collusion underway

Robie de Guzman   •   June 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Thursday apologized for the spate of rotational brownouts that hit parts of Luzon this week.

He assured that the Luzon grid is now in normal system condition and that the current power supply reserves are enough to accommodate the projected demand.

“Normal na po ang supply ng kuryente for today. Ang supply po is more than sufficient to meet the projected demand today,” he said during a Palace media briefing.

“Sa ngayon po, the demand that we projected is at 10,300 megawatts and we have something like 11,600 megawatts of supply. So we have a normal supply today,” he added.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) first placed the Luzon grid under red and yellow alerts on May 31, and then on June 1 and 2 due to low power supply following planned and unplanned outages of some power plants.

“I apologize for the last 2 days na nagkaroon po ng rotating brownouts. Dahil po ‘yon dahil sa sabay-sabay po na nagkaroon po ng breakdown ng apat na plantang malalaki na ang capacity po is 2,017 megawatts,” he said.

“Malaki po ang nawalang supply sa sistema… kaya ganun po, nagkaroon po tayo ng kakulangan at sa init din po ng panahon, tumaas po ang demand natin to more than 11,000 megawatts,” he added.

Cusi, however, noted that the DOE is still monitoring the condition of four power plants that are still on a forced outage. These power plants have a combined capacity of more than 1,000 megawatts.

In a separate advisory, the DOE said Pagbilao Coal-Fired Power Plant Unit 2 (382 MW) is currently on forced outage since June 2 and is expected to return to service on June 6.

GNPower Mariveles Energy Center (GMEC) Coal-Fired Power Plant Unit 2 (316 MW) is also on forced outage since June 1 and is expected to return to service on June 8.

The GNPower Mariveles Energy Center (GMEC) Coal-Fired Power Plant Unit 1 (316 MW), which is on forced outage since February 6, is expected to return to service on August 31.

The Sem-Calaca Coal-Fired Coal-Fired Power Plant Unit 2 (300 MW), which is currently on forced outage since December 3, 2020, is expected to return to service on July 1.

Cusi said he has ordered an investigation into possible collusion among power plants.

“Pinatitingnan na po natin yan sa ating mga tao, and I have asked also po ang tulong ng ERC at ng Philippine Competition Commission to look into the allegation,” he said.

“Pero habang hindi pa po natatapos ang imbestigasyon, hindi pa po tayo makakapagsabi kung ano ba talaga ang nangyari,” he added.

Some senators have earlier pushed for an inquiry into the recent rotational brownouts.

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