Suarez says suspension of fuel tax still possible

Published December 27, 2018, 6:32 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Ben Rosario

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez (Lakas-CMD, Quezon) vowed on Thursday to “sound off” to the leadership of the House of Representatives the idea of putting on hold the imposition of fuel excise tax and its replacement with the road user’s tax in 2019.

“We can sound off this idea to the leadership of the House, rather than impose new taxes on the people, the MVUC can be used by government instead,” said Suarez during a press conference.

Government expects to gain some P41 billion by imposing starting next month the second trance of the fuel tax hike embodied in the highly-criticized Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law.

On the other hand, it stands to “gain” P45 billion from the motor vehicles users charge which will be included in the General Fund as soon as the abolition of the Road Board, the agency that administers the fund, is passed into law.

“The Road Board has served its purpose. There is no longer a need for dedicated fund for road safety and pollution now,” said Suarez, author of the Road User’s Tax law that created the said agency over a decade ago.

The opposition lawmakers said the House minority bloc has always been against the imposition of additional fuel tax that would give additional burden on consumers and motorists.

“You don’t impose taxes during a bad economy,” said Suarez, referring to the additional fuel tax next year.

He expressed openness to support the idea of the MVUC covering for the fuel tax collection which many believe should no longer be implemented in 2019.

President Rodrigo Duterte had considered suspending the implementation of the second trance of the 2019 fuel tax provision of the TRAIN law when inflation rate rose starting the fourth quarter of this year.

However, recent continuous plunge in fuel prices had apparently prompted a change of mind by Duterte.

Suarez noted that while government has been receiving huge gains in th implementation of the TRAIN laws, spending has been slow , thus, defeating the purpose by which the measures were passed.

“I’ve been always telling them, tax kayo ng tax palaki ng palaki ang accumulated non-expenditure natin” the vetran solon stated. (They keep on imposing taxes but accumulated non-expenditures keep on getting bigger)

In the same press conference, Suarez said the House stand on the proposed abolition of the road board will have to be decided by former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Reacting to Senator Franklin Drilon’s claim that the bill proposing the allegedly graft-ridden agency must now be considered enroled for signing by the president because Senate had adopted the House version of the measure.

Suarez noted that the house version has been recalled by the chamber, thus, it is now up to Arroyo whether or not to support Drilon’s stand on the issue.