SENATOR Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, who will again chair the chamber’s Public Services Committee, said a suspension of fuel excise tax to lower pump prices will not just benefit public transport drivers and delivery riders but also prompt more economic activities.
“Taking off P6 from the price of diesel per liter during critical times can help our drivers ply their routes again. At the same time, it will lower the cost of transporting goods,” Ms. Poe said in a statement on Thursday as she refiled a bill automatically suspending the excise tax on gasoline and diesel when the average Dubai crude oil price exceeds $80 per barrel.
“The wheels of the economy can go faster if public transport is able to move people to work or buy goods and essentials that they can afford,” she said.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has said it expects the price of Dubai crude to average about $106.30 a barrel this year from the $104.04 estimate in May.
Gasoline, diesel and kerosene prices had jumped by P30, P45.90 and P39.75 a liter, respectively, as of June 28, according to data from the Energy department.
Ms. Poe also questioned the government’s hesitation in losing over P100 billion in excise tax income when it will benefit drivers and workers.
“If the government can afford to lose P251 billion to benefit big companies under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act in the first two years, why can’t it do the same for our public utility drivers, delivery riders and ordinary workers who bear the brunt of higher transport costs?” she said.
The Finance department earlier said a suspension may result in as much as P131.4 billion in foregone revenue in 2022, which will potentially hinder economic recovery.
The proposed measure, which seeks to amend section 148 of the National Internal Revenue Code, will “immediately snip off P10 from the price of gasoline per liter and P6 from the price of diesel,” Ms. Poe said.
At the start of July, the minimum fare in traditional jeepneys rose to P11 nationwide and to P13 for their modern counterparts.
The senator cited estimates that 20% of the 900,000 jeepney drivers have left the trade due to losses from high pump prices.
The country’s inflation rate in June rose to its highest level in nearly four years, with the consumer price index accelerating to 6.1% year on year, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Tuesday. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan