Instead of the measly P200 monthly allowance, the government should channel all collections from taxes on fuel to a more substantial aid package for struggling households, senatorial aspirant and Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero said.
Escudero said Congress should pass a supplemental budget to ensure that revenue from the excise taxes, projected to reach P105.9 billion this year, would be used only for assistance to Filipinos most affected by oil price hikes.
“P200 per month is nothing but a token for officials to be able to say they did something.”
“Since the government does not want to suspend the collection of excise taxes on petroleum, then the least it can do is provide financial assistance that will make a difference for poor families. Because P200 per month is nothing but a token for officials to be able to say they did something,” according to the governor, who once chaired the Senate Committee on Finance.
He pointed out that aside from the excise tax on fuel under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law, the government collects a 12 percent value-added tax (VAT) on petroleum products.
From January-February, revenue from excess VAT was P3 billion, and it is projected to reach P20 billion this year with the Dubai crude oil prices at $100/barrel. Crude oil is now $120/barrel.
“It’s not right for the government to make money on the backs of its already burdened populace and then to distribute only crumbs to the people who are paying the price for a deregulated oil industry that has allowed oil companies to easily raise fuel prices,” Escudero stressed.
The Department of Budget and Management announced on March 23 that it would give P500 monthly allowance to the bottom half of the population for the first three months but that aid would revert to P200 monthly for the next nine months.
It has also earmarked P3 billon for fuel subsidy to transport and agricultural workers but rejected calls for the suspension of excise taxes on fuel.
“I’m pushing for a supplemental budget based on these tax collections. We do not know how long we will live with the impact of these oil price hikes.”
“The revenue from all taxes on fuel should provide for people’s needs, and we need to hold the government accountable. This is why I’m pushing for a supplemental budget based on these tax collections. We do not know how long we will live with the impact of these oil price hikes,” he said.
The appropriated P3 billion for fuel subsidies in the General Appropriations Act will benefit 377,443 public transport drivers, receiving P6,500 each, and 79,000 beneficiaries, receiving P6,329 each.
For public utility vehicles that consume 60 liters a day, the subsidy could cover the equivalent of seven days of fuel, given the difference in average oil prices between December 2021 and March 2022.