By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Grace Poe sought yesterday the suspension of the imposition of the excise on fuel under the government’s tax reform package.
Poe made the call in concluding the Senate Committee on Public Services’ hearing in Iloilo City, on the effects of Republic Act No. 10963, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law on utilities and transportation.
“Hihilingin natin sa Department of Finance at sa ibang ahensya ng gobyerno na pag-aralang mabuti ang suspension ng excise taxes sa fuel dahil sa walang humpay na pagtaas ng presyo ng produktong petrolyo (We will ask the Department of Finance and other agencies to study carefully the suspension of the excise on fuel because of the continuing increases in the prices of petroleum products),” Poe, committee chairwoman, said.
During the hearing, senators learned that pump prices in the Panay region already increased by 30 percent, or at least P10 for diesel and gasoline, since December last year, when TRAIN was signed into law.
A group also lamented that prices of basic commodities spiked by at least 60 percent, or P5 per kilo for rice; P15 per kilo for pork; and P20 per kilo for fish.
Farmers reportedly have to raise an additional P2,600 a month; while drivers have to earn P3,640 more monthly to be able to meet daily expenses due to the TRAIN law.
Consumer groups in Panay also blamed TRAIN for supposedly aggravating the effects of increasing fuel prices on the prices of basic commodities.
“Bilang tulong sa ating mga kababayan, lalo na sa mga mahihirap, dapat na pag-aralan ng ahensya ang pagpapaliban sa full implementation ng TRAIN Law, partikular sa fuel excise taxes, dahil lahat ng produkto ay apektado nito (To help our countrymen, especially the poor, the agencies should consider the suspension of the full implementation of the TRAIN law, particularly on fuel excise),” Poe recommended.
Under the TRAIN, new excise rates were imposed on fuel products: P2.50 per liter for diesel; P2.65 per liter for gasoline; P3 per liter for kerosene; and P1 per liter for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
With global oil prices almost reaching the US$80 per barrel level, average price increase has been P8.07 per liter for gasoline; P8.95 for diesel; and P9.15 per liter of kerosene, reports said.
While the country’s economic managers have downplayed the effects of the TRAIN, Malacañang assured that it is ready to suspend the excise taxes should oil prices exceed the $80-per-barrel mark, as provided under the said law.
Calls for fuel excise suspension floated as consumer prices rose 4.5 percent in April compared to a year ago, setting its fastest pace in over five years.
Some senators have earlier appealed for the suspension of the fuel excise.