By Myrna M. Velasco
As pump prices go up again this week, the Department of Energy (DOE) indicated yesterday that it will also further widen its monitoring of the implementation of the increase in excise taxes of fuel products.
It was advised by the oil companies that diesel prices will be up by P0.40 per liter this week; gasoline by P0.10 per liter; and kerosene products by P0.15 per liter effective 6:00 p.m. today (January 22).
As of press time, the first industry players to increase prices at the pumps had been Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation, PTT Philippines and Total; while the rest of the industry players are anticipated to follow.
The month of January had generally been increases in the costs of petroleum commodities, a not very welcoming prospect for this new year – considering that the Philippine government also opted to burden consumers with escalating fuel taxes.
Given these twin financial liabilities on consumers’ pockets, the Department of Energy (DOE) can only promise this time to broaden its monitoring of the implementation of the hike in excise taxes in petroleum products.
The agency has that penchant of serving show-cause orders to oil firms that it suspected to have been breaching implementation of the tax policy, but the DOE has yet to show grit and resolve that it can really get its hands on offenders.
The DOE said it carried out ‘field validation activities’ into 115 retail outlets of oil firms on their enforcement of the second tranche of the excise taxes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, but so far, the department has not reported if it was able to pin down violations.
At this stage, the DOE just reiterated that in show-cause orders served, it directed the retail outlets “to explain in writing and under oath, their early implementation of the second tranche and to submit all the supporting documents that would substantiate the validity of the imposition.”
Meanwhile on the validation works, the department explained that it deployed teams from its Oil Industry Management Bureau (OIMB) which have been comparing “the copies of depot-issued delivery receipts and sales invoices with the officials receipts being issued by retail outlets to determine the specific excise tax implementation dates and verify that the outlets are imposing the correct excise tax rates.”
Part of the monitoring undertaken by the department had also been on fuel outlets’ compliance to the mandate for them to display the excise taxes’ increase implementation via a one-meter-by-one meter sign that should be prominently displayed at their stations.