Malacañang said that the proposed suspension of the excise tax to address the rising price of oil in the country cannot just be implemented unless recommended by the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the statement following calls to suspend the excise tax and approve a fare hike as the country experiences a rise in oil rates amid the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
In his press briefing on Monday, February 28, Nograles said that there is a process that needs to be followed before any of the calls of concerned sectors be heeded.
"Kung magkakaroon ba ng ganyang mga options (If there would be such options), it would have to begin with the recommendation from the Department of Finance. Ang basis ng recommendation ay sa pakikipag-usap niya at sa pag-aaral at pagsusuri ng DBCC (The basis of its recommendation would be from its dialogue with and the study of the DBCC)," he said.
"Mula doon, the Department of Finance, isasapinal ang kanilang recommendations at ibibigay kay Pangulong Duterte (From there, the DOF would finalize its recommendations and then present it to the President)," he added.
"Let's take it from there. 'yan po ang proseso na susundan nation (That is process that we need to follow)," he continued.
Meanwhile, Nograles said it was up to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to consider the five-peso fare hike being pushed by transport groups.
In a statement last week, the DBCC said it is closely monitoring the factors affecting the oil prices in the country. Despite the developments, it assured the public that the government remains ready to provide targeted relief assistance and support to address the impact of the oil price hike for affected sectors, especially Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) drivers, farmers, and fisherfolk.
"The DBCC remains committed to taking decisive action to ensure the unhampered supply of goods and services despite the rising oil prices amid the pandemic," it said.
"These will support our full recovery and sustained growth in 2022 and beyond," it added.
Based on the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) latest assessment as of February 17, 2022, the Dubai crude oil price for this year is projected to average at USD 83.3 per barrel. This is expected to decelerate to USD 79 by the end of 2022 based on the latest oil futures.
To assist the transport sector, the DBCC said the government is preparing to release P2.5 billion for the Fuel Subsidy Program of the Department of Transportation. This aims to provide fuel vouchers to over 377,000 qualified PUV drivers who are operating jeepneys, UV express, taxis, tricycles, and other full-time ride-hailing and delivery services nationwide.
In addition, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has a budget of P500 million to provide assistance through fuel discounts to farmers and fisherfolk who either individually own and operate agricultural and fishery machinery or operate through a farmers organization or cooperative. This will help mitigate the impact of elevated fuel prices on production and transport costs of farm and fishery products.
Moreover, the government is also pursuing a holistic value chain approach to ensure an adequate and affordable food supply amidst the rising oil prices.