Government bares ₧1-billion fuel subsidy for drivers


DELUGED with calls to suspend the fuel excise taxes to provide the public relief from steadily rising prices of oil in global markets that feed inflation, economic managers on Monday announced the rollout of a P1-billion fuel subsidy for the transportation sector.

The Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) said on Monday it will release the fund to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to provide cash grants to around 178,000 public transport drivers to cushion the impact of
increasing oil prices.

“We, the members of the Development Budget Coordination Committee, are committed to support our transportation sector, amidst the increasing oil prices,” the DBCC said in a statement.

“The government shall release P1.0 billion to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board to provide cash grants to around 178,000 bonafide Public Utility Vehicles [PUV] drivers for the remaining months of the year. This will be distributed using the system established under the Pantawid Pasada Program of the LTFRB,” it added.

However, it is not clear yet how much would be received by each driver. The BusinessMirror sought to clarify this with budget officials but they have yet to respond, as of press time.

Nonetheless, the DBCC said the funds to be used shall be sourced from the Unprogrammed Appropriations under the support for Infrastructure Projects and Social Programs from this year’s national budget.

DOTr: Ready for our part

Reacting to news of the release of P1-billion fuel subsidies, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) assured the DBCC that the released amount pursuant to Section 82 of the TRAIN Law, will be distributed as cash grants to qualified and bonafide PUV drivers for the rest of this year.

Qualified PUV drivers will receive the cash grants using the system already established under the Pantawid Pasada Program of the LTFRB, where the Land Bank of the Philippines shall disburse money straight to the cash cards issued to drivers.

The release of the fuel subsidies is also timely, DOTr said, because on Thursday it will also be defending its proposal before the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to approve a significant increase in the passenger capacity of public transportation, as the National Capital Region and other parts of the country are placed under more relaxed quarantine levels.

Transport groups

Transport groups earlier filed a petition for fare hike before the LTFRB but they have since agreed to put their petition on hold until they receive the cash subsidy from the government.

Following calls to suspend fuel excise taxes amid oil price increases, the Department of Finance (DOF) earlier said this may spell a “substantial revenue loss” of P131.4 billion in 2022.

In a memorandum to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez, DOF Revenue Operations Group Undersecretary Antonette C.Tionko also warned that “any suspension of the imposition of excise taxes should be appropriately studied” as the foregone revenues “may affect the government’s budget for Covid-19 recovery measures.

Tionko also agreed that the only way for the Department of Energy to be granted powers to suspend the fuel excise taxes is through legislation.

She explained that the provision under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law can no longer be invoked, since what was only allowed to be suspended under the said law are the mandated excise tax increases from 2018 to 2020.

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