Se­nate to fast-track bills freez­ing fuel tax af­ter House pas­sage

Business World - - The Economy - A. Aguinaldo Camille

THE SE­NATE ways and means com­mit­tee will act im­me­di­ately on mea­sures call­ing for the sus­pen­sion of fuel ex­cise tax un­der the tax re­form law once it is trans­mit­ted to the cham­ber, its chair­man Se­na­tor Juan Edgardo M. An­gara said on Thurs­day.

“I am con­fi­dent that if they passed it in the House, it will also be passed in the Se­nate. Ev­ery mea­sure on taxes must come from the House… so once they pass it, I’m sure there will be fast ac­tion in the Se­nate and in the com­mit­tee,” he told re­porters on the side­lines of the 2019 pro­posed bud­get de­lib­er­a­tions.

“We will act on it im­me­di­ately,” he added.

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Wed­nes­day de­bated bills and res­o­lu­tions seek­ing to sus­pend the sched­uled in­crease of fuel ex­cise tax, a day af­ter Mala­cañang de­cided to go ahead with the tax hike.

Se­na­tor Sher­win T. Gatchalian, who chairs the Se­nate com­mit­tee on eco­nomic af­fairs, is rec­om­mend­ing a three-month sus­pen­sion of the fuel ex­cise tax to help the poor­est Filipinos re­cover from high prices this year, de­spite the lower in­fla­tion in Novem­ber.

“(The 6% Novem­ber in­fla­tion) is still heavy for the poor. One of our rec­om­men­da­tions is to sus­pend (the fuel ex­cise tax) for three months be­cause even though in­fla­tion slowed down, it is still high for the poor­est Filipinos, the bot­tom 30%,” he told re­porters.

Both se­na­tors have also urged gov­ern­ment to fully im­ple­ment the so­cial mit­i­gat­ing mea­sures un­der the tax re­form law. They said not all of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries have re­ceived ben­e­fits from the un­con­di­tional cash trans­fer pro­gram and Pantawid Pasada pro­gram that the tax re­form law pro­vides.

Se­na­tor Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV said the Se­nate could take up the Bawas Presyo sa Petrolyo bill and the res­o­lu­tion filed by mi­nor­ity se­na­tors call­ing for the fuel ex­cise tax hike sus­pen­sion.

The Bawas Presyo Bill seeks to amend Repub­lic Act No. 10963 or the Tax Re­form for Ac­cel­er­a­tion and In­clu­sion (TRAIN) law that will pro­vide an au­to­matic sus­pen­sion of fuel ex­cise tax when in­fla­tion ex­ceeds the gov­ern­ment’s tar­gets.

“Hope­fully, the Se­nate can fol­low suit and tackle th­ese cru­cial mea­sures be­fore the end of the year,” Mr. Aquino said in a state­ment.

The TRAIN law im­poses an ex­cise taxes on gaso­line and diesel to P7 per liter and P2.50 per liter, re­spec­tively, in 2018. Start­ing Jan­uary 1, 2019, gaso­line ex­cise tax will go up to P9 while diesel will in­crease to P4.50.

The law also pro­vides a sus­pen­sion pro­vi­sion on the sched­uled in­crease of fuel ex­cise taxes if the av­er­age Dubai crude oil price for three months prior to the sched­uled in­crease reaches or ex­ceeds $80 per bar­rel. —

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