Imee pushes suspending VAT on fuel amid serial price hikes


CITING the need to avert skyrocketing fuel prices, Sen. Imee Marcos asked Congress to front-load passage of remedial legislation suspending the value-added tax (VAT) on fuel products. The lawmaker lamented the urgently needed consumer relief measure is languishing in the legislative mill.

“I have already filed a bill suspending VAT on petroleum products,” Marcos noted, adding partly  in Filipino, “but it’s still pending in the Senate. Languishing in the calendar of business.”

As an alternative, the senator said the suspension of VAT to tamp down rising oil prices can still be enforced, since President Duterte has declared “that we are still in national health emergency crisis until September 2022.”

For  the seventh straight week, the senator noted, oil firms are raising gasoline prices, “this time by P1.30 per liter, diesel prices by P1.50 and  kerosene prices by P1.45 per liter.”

This, amid mounting consumers’ clamor that government should do something to address it, including a snowballing suggestion to suspend the excise tax on gasoline.

Asked about the clamor of some transport groups calling for a P3 fare hike in the wake of the series of oil price hikes, Marcos said this can only be averted if there is no oil price hike.

“All of that has a domino effect each time petroleum prices move,” the senator pointed out, lamenting that “ordinary people are always at the losing end.”

On Monday, the consumer group Laban Konsyumer asked the government to suspend the excise tax on petroleum products to provide relief to many sectors amid the pandemic, as oil companies announced another round of price hikes effective midnight Tuesday.

National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) chief Karl Chua, however, said suspending the excise tax is not yet necessary at this point, and that the pressures caused by rising oil prices have already been factored into the inflation projections.

Laban Konsyumer President Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba said such suspension of the excise tax is in line with Presidential Proclamation 1218, which allows the national government to monitor and control prices of necessities and prime commodities.

“[I] am invoking Presidential Proclamation 1218 and the President can by executive order suspend the excise taxes on fuel products for a limited period, every two weeks interval, and this will be a big help to all consumers across all sectors,” he told the BusinessMirror.

The excise tax regime is based on the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) previously, which mandates increasing rates from 2018 to 2020.

However, the TRAIN law allows for suspending the scheduled increase when the average Dubai crude oil based on Mean of Platts Singapore reaches at least $80 per barrel.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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