Senate panel recommends suspension of fuel excise tax

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Motorists paid 14.5% more in fuel and other operating cost in February, the Finance department said, noting that around half of the increment could be attributed to higher excise tax while the other half was due to higher world crude oil prices. -- AFP

The Senate committee on public services has moved to recommend the suspension of excise taxes on fuel amid rising prices in the wage of the tax reform law.

“We will ask the Department of Finance and other government agencies to study carefully the suspension of excise taxes on fuel because of the continuous price hike on petroleum products,” Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares, chair of the committee on public services, said in Filipino during a hearing held in Iloilo Provincial Capitol on May 25.

The committee is also set to craft some proposals on how to cushion the impact of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law based on Friday’s discussion with stakeholders.

Ms. Poe noted that the cost of fuel increased by 30% since December 2017 on Panay Island, adding at least P10 to diesel and gasoline prices, which, in turn, also resulted in higher prices of basic commodities.

Senators Joseph Victor G. Ejercito and Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV made the same calls, reiterating that the public is bearing the brunt of the tax law.

“I urge government to implement the TRAIN Law provision that provided for the suspension of fuel excise tax increase ‘when the average Dubai crude oil price based on Mean of Platts Singapore (MOPS) for three months prior to the scheduled increase of the month reaches or exceeds $80 per barrel,'” Mr. Ejercito said in a statement.

The Department of Energy (DoE) said it may serve as arbiter to suspend fuel tax when world crude prices hit an average of $80 per barrel over three months but noted that the suspension will only cover the excise taxes due for 2019.

Filipinos are swamped by rising costs. Let us not wait for those costs to rise further,” Mr. Aquino said in Filipino, noting that waiting for 2019 to act would be “too late.”

Early this month, Mr. Aquino filed a bill to amend the TRAIN Law to introduce a mechanism that would suspend excise tax on fuel when inflation rate breaches government’s quarterly targets. — Minde Nyl R. Dela Cruz