By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino, IV said Thursday that the government’s plan to suspend the second tranche of the excise tax under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law for three consecutive months is not enough and would only be useless.
Aquino admitted that he was happy when he heard of Malacañang’s plan to suspend the excise on oil and other petroleum products to alleviate consumer woes on higher inflation, but was disappointed when he learned it would only be implemented in the first quarter of 2019.
“Three months is not enough. It’s too short to be felt by our people. The reason why we want to suspend is because our people are already asking for help to ease their burden on the high prices of goods and services brought about by the increases in petroleum products,” Aquino said during a Kapihan sa Senado forum.
“Don’t forget there is still a third tranche, and I think they are not committed on the 2019 tranche,” Aquino pointed out.
The senator said he hopes the government would implement a permanent suspension of the excise taxes and to rollback the first tranche of the excise tax on oil.
State economic managers have said during a Senate hearing that they are looking at the possibility of suspending the excise tax for only three months.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, said he would recommend a six-month suspension to accommodate adjustments saying a three-month suspension is also insufficient.
Gatchalian said the Senate and the House of Representatives may soon approve a joint resolution to push for the suspension of the additional tax on fuel next year.
Aquino agreed with Gatchalian’s view, saying the public will hardly feel the effect of the adjustments in three months time.
“That is why our call is to suspend it, not only for three months, but really suspend it and roll back the 2018 tax rates. That is one clear way that we can solve the inflation,” Aquino said.
The lawmaker said he is not losing hope that both the Senate and the House of Representatives would agree to amend provisions of the TRAIN law, particularly touch the excise tax on petroleum products.
“If both houses of Congress agree to it, then it can be done. They may disagree…We are hoping that the joint resolution, when we come back for the session, can be tackled and agreed upon by the senators.
“I am hoping that even members of the majority will help us to amend the TRAIN law. This is the best gift we can give to our people this Christmas,” he said.