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House panel to review Duterte’s fuel tax hike plan

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The House committee on ways and means panel is planning to review Malacañang’s recent pronouncement to proceed with the implementation of the second tranche of fuel excise taxes in 2019.

Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrelita Suansing, panel chair, admitted that majority of its members expressed concern over the possible effects of the tax hike amid the struggles of the poor and other marginalized sectors to cope with the rising prices of goods.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno recently announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has given the green-light to his economic managers to proceed with the implementation of additional fuel excise tax under TRAIN Law starting this coming January.

“[We need] to strike a workable balance between the revenue interest of the government and the financial wellbeing of the country,” said Suansing.

The chief executive last October announced that no increase on the said tax on petroleum would be implemented for next year in view of the rising cost of average world crude oil as well as the public clamor to do so in view of high inflation that the country is actually still grappling with.

However, a consultation with the country’s economic managers led by Finance Sec. Carlos “Sonny” Domiguez III recommended that it was now “unnecessary” to suspend the increase” in tax imperative due to the plunging world oil prices.

Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo, for his part, stressed the need to suspend excise taxes on fuel, particularly kerosene and diesel, as they have a dramatic impact on the poor and the inflation of items in the food basket of the lowest 20 percent of the population.

Quimbo earlier proposed that the basis for the suspension of excise tax on fuel be changed— which is currently pegged at the international trading price of fuel in Dubai.

“Sa tingin natin at base sa nakikita natin is that the basis against which suspension shall take place should not be the price of the international crude oil but rather it should be the inflation itself,” he said.

Quimbo sa no less than the Department of Finance had admitted that the implementation of additional fuel excise tax was going to be inflationary.

“We wanted to balance was to make sure that if in the event that the inflation of the economy becomes uncontrollable, the excise tax on fuel should therefore be adjusted or be suspended,” said Quimbo.

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