Senator Sonny Angara said that the government should fast-track its projects on improving the country’s public transport system so that Filipinos will have a viable transportation option amid proposals to increase excise taxes on oil and automobiles.
“The government wants to reduce the number of vehicles on the road to address traffic congestion kaya tataasan nila ang buwis ng sasakyan. Kasabay nito, tataasan din nila ang buwis ng petrolyo na maaaring magresulta sa dagdag pasahe,” said Angara.
“I think raising the auto excise is a good strategy but the government should provide the public an efficient, dependable, safe and affordable public transport system to encourage the people to take mass transit rather than use their own cars,” said the veteran legislator, chairman of the ways and means committee.
The tax reform measure recently passed by the House of Representatives aims to lower income taxes while limiting value added tax (VAT) exemptions and adjusting excise taxes on oil and automobiles.
To offset the increase in excise taxes on oil, the government plans to put in place a pantawid pasada program which aims to provide cash cards to public utility vehicles (PUVs), and a public transport modernization program which aims to provide subsidies to PUVs to convert to more efficient engines and bodies.
However, during last week’s hearing, transport groups have warned that despite such programs, the proposed oil tax hike could result to an increase in jeepney fares from the current P8 to P10.
“Tayo po ay nakikinig sa ating transport at commuter groups na talagang tatamaan dito. We have to ensure that proper safety nets are in place to exclude the PUVs from the tax hike so fares need not increase,” the seasoned lawmaker said.
Meanwhile, with the proposed adjustment of excise tax on automobiles, mass-market vehicles such as the base model Toyota Vios would increase by P10,000, Mitsubishi Mirage by P13,000, Toyota Innova by P43,000, while SUVs such as Toyota Land Cruiser will increase by as much as P950,000.
“The Lower House was able to temper down the original proposal of the Finance Department to ensure that most cars, especially low-end models, will remain affordable. To free up road space, we will look into imposing higher taxes doon sa pangatlo o pang-apat na sasakyan na bibilhin nila through the motor vehicle user’s charge (MVUC),” the youthful senator said.
Apart from jeepney modernization, Transportation Assistant Secretary Mark De Leon said the DOTr is set to expand P2P bus services and open new routes to improve public transport system in the country.
“I am one with the goal of making public transport the preferred mode of travel. Pero sana madaliin din ang pag-ayos ng MRT at LRT to help migrate the ones bringing cars to public transport,” he said.