Excise tax freeze plan welcomed

THE House opposition welcomed the government’s decision to suspend the second tranche of fuel excise tax increases under the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

It has been the call of Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo and other members of the People’s Minority to suspend the excise tax due to the continuous increase of oil prices and rising inflation.

Earlier, Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go announced that the government will be suspending the second tranche of fuel excise tax increases under TRAIN scheduled for 2019.

“If the announcement proves true, it will be a welcome development and is an indication of the increasing recognition from Malacañang of the negative impact that increased fuel excise taxes have had on the Filipino people,” Quimbo said.

However, Quimbo said, the People’s Minority is asking for more.

Citing studies, Quimbo said that there is a worrying impact of unabated inflation on poverty.

Food inflation in particular, now at close to 10 percent, has likely dragged more than 2 million Filipinos into poverty. This is corroborated by the recently reported rise to 52 percent of self-rated poverty, 8 percent of which are classified as “new poor.”

“While a suspension of the scheduled increases in 2019 will at the very least help to stem the tide and prevent the situation from getting any worse, it does nothing to relieve those who are now suffering from the relentless increase in prices,” Quimbo said.

Thus, Quimbo said, they will continue to call on the administration and  colleagues in Congress to support more immediate action to bring relief to the people through the repeal of the anti-poor imposition of excise tax on kerosene and diesel as well as the implementation of a more responsive mechanism for the automatic suspension of fuel excise taxes under TRAIN, as proposed under House Bill No. 8171.

A win for the people

President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to suspend the excise tax on petroleum products in January 2019 is a win for Filipinos and not for any government official, Senator Bam Aquino said.

“Panalo ang pamilyang Pilipino sa pagsuspindi ng dagdag buwis sa gasolina, diesel at iba pang produktong petrolyo sa Enero,” said Aquino who has been pushing for the suspension of excise tax since May 2018.

But Aquino stressed that there’s more to be done as he reiterated his push to roll back the excise tax on fuel under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law to December 31, 2017 rates.

“Magandang unang hakbang ito. Pero kailangan nang aksyunan ang Step 2 - tuluyan na nating alisin ang buong excise tax sa petrolyo na pinataw ng TRAIN Law. Ipasa na ang Bawas Presyo sa Petrolyo Bill at joint resolusyon ng Minority Bloc,” he added.

On May 10, 2018, Aquino filed Senate Bill No. 1798 or the Bawas Presyo sa Petrolyo Bill, seeking to suspend the collection of excise tax on fuel once inflation rate breaches the annual inflation target over a three-month period.

But while the administration vowed to suspend the excise tax in 2019, Senator Grace Poe insisted that the time to make the decision is now. She said that it is contained and allowed as a safeguard under the TRAIN Law.

She added that based on public hearings of the Committee on Public Services which she chairs, the poor are much poorer today due to inflation.

With Marlon Purificacion