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Dumb and getting dumber: Bungling Sonny Dominguez, DOF want advice from math-averse Duterte on whether to suspend fuel taxes

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The Department of Finance (DOF) on Wednesday said it was seeking final guidance from economic managers on President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s openness to suspend excise tax on oil products.

DOF Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino clarified Duterte’s earlier statement about the next PP2 increase in excise tax next year.

“We are looking at all advice received regarding this area. We also need to look at all of the factors, the main factors involved in such a decision,” Lambino said in a Palace briefing.

“So we looked to, of course, the Cabinet, our principals and, of course, the Office of the President for final guidance on this,” he added.

On Tuesday night, Duterte said suspending excise tax on oil products is an option being considered to ease inflation.

“Maybe,” Duterte told reporters in an event at Malacañang. Duterte has candidly admitted that he knows zilch on economic matters and has left dcisions involving numbers in his government to his boyhood buddy, Finance Secretary Sunny Dominguez, and his economic team.

Under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, an ill- conceived, DOF-backed legislation which has been blamed for the surge in inflation, the government can suspend the implementation of the higher excise tax if oil prices in the world market will hit $80 per barrel.

Lambino said suspending the next tranche of excise tax would require “legislative action.”

“If we suspend based on the mechanism that is in the TRAIN Law, then that can be automatic. But if we do something else, it would require different actions,” Lambino said.

He said they needed to “manage expectations” that inflation might remain high despite the suspension of excise taxes.

“Hindi po bababa nang todo iyong presyo ng oil dahil ang import price po natin ay tumaas from around high $40 per barrel to now above 80 dollars per barrel,” Lambino said.

“Unfortunately we do not control because we are not an oil producer at price-taker po tayo pagdating sa pandaigdigang merkado,” he added. (PNA)