The chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means said the funding source for the P500 monthly subsidy for poor families could come from existing budgetary items and augmentation of existing items funded by dividend remittances and other non-tax sources.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda said the government can provide the P500 aid amid the fuel price crisis, noting that the budget is fungible so long as the government can expand fiscal space in general through higher value-added tax (VAT) collections.

“I am confident that we can afford this relief measure while maintaining our fiscal space. I continue to work with the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) and BOC (Bureau of Customs) to ensure that we can close tax loopholes and improve revenue collections using existing tax laws,” Salceda said.

The veteran legislator explained the election ban may also have caused the discontinuance of some items, so the Department of Budget and Management will have to do a “sweep” of which items can be declared as “savings”.

“I continue to keep in touch with the economic managers on this. UCTs (unconditional cash transfers) were an iteration we suggested in November 2021, so I’m thankful that the President (Rodrigo Duterte) adopted this recommendation,” the seasoned lawmaker said.

He, however, pointed out that part of the implementation will spill over after June 2022.

This means that the next administration will have to work with the current economic team to ensure that these programs are properly transitioned and sustained, Salceda noted.

“The monthly subsidies will be immediate relief for struggling Filipino households.”

“Fiscal space will also remain a foremost concern for the next administration, especially given our pandemic-related fiscal constraints,” he pointed out.

Salceda said the monthly subsidies will be immediate relief for struggling Filipino households.

“We recommended this in November 2021 in a Committee hearing attended by the economic agencies and reiterated the same during the first hearing of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Fuel Price Crisis, which I co-Chair. We welcome the announcement that it will be done and that it can be funded,” he stressed.

“The national government should institute a mandatory 5 percent savings across all agencies to raise P250 billion.”

Taguig-Pateros City Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, meanwhile, said the national government should institute a mandatory 5 percent savings across all agencies to raise P250 billion that can be used to provide cash aid to Filipinos to help them cope with the rising fuel prices.

In a press conference, Cayetano said of the P250 billion, the government can distribute P10,000 indirect financial aid to each Filipino family and still have P50 billion leftover as standby funds.

The veteran legislator said instituting a mandatory 5 percent savings in all government agencies would be crucial as the country deals with current crises like the fuel price hikes and COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing that changes need to be made now and not after the May elections.

“I appreciate the efforts of the government but… we really have to do much, much better,” the seasoned lawmaker said. “Mas maganda na pag-usapan natin ang solusyon, hindi yung problema (It’s better to talk about solutions, not problems). Everyone knows the problem so let’s not act as if we’re helpless because the government is not helpless.”

Amid criticism over the measly P200 monthly fuel subsidy that the government plans to distribute to poor Filipino families amid the fuel price crisis, Duterte on Monday said he instructed Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III to increase the aid to P500.

In a speech delivered at Malacañan Palace, Duterte said he obtained feedback “from the ground” that the P200 monthly cash aid was “too small” and could not sustain a family of three to five members.

“They are the productive Filipinos for tomorrow ‘pag hindi ngayon (if not now). So sabi ko kay (I told) Sonny, ‘It will be an uphill battle for the next generation kung gawain natin na (if we make it) P500,’” he said.

The move to provide for a monthly fuel subsidy came alongside Duterte’s decision to retain the excise tax on different fuel products.

The DOF said the suspension of fuel excise taxes would lead to a massive revenue loss of P105.9 billion, or about a half-percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) this year.



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