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Kailangan ba talaga? Senators cool to imposing additional taxes on fuel products


Malacañang may have a hard time getting the support of senators, including some of its allies, in the government’s plan to impose additional taxes on fuel products on top of the 12% value-added tax (VAT).

“I’m against it. There is no fiscal crisis. The timing is also bad now that oil prices are on its way up. Just improve collection efficiency and stop smuggling,” Minority Leader Ralph Recto said.

Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III is also not keen on the idea saying that the government should consider other options first or other sources of revenues before imposing new taxes on the public.

“Further study in the Senate is necessary. Meron kaming mga economic experts and members with a lot of common sense, therefore the issues can be fully discussed,” he said.

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero said the planned increase in taxes far outweigh the net effect of lowering of income tax rates which according to Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno will be the quid pro quo in this case, to cushion the impact on the public.

“I will study the proposal but offhand, that seems too much. Also, they would first have to show and prove that: first, they have exhausted all efforts to collect existing taxes; and that they can actually spend that money especially given our experience last year with low absorptive capacity,” he said.

Sen. Leila de Lima also called for an extensive study first of the proposal considering the consequences on the poorest segment of the society.

“This is not acceptable! Dagdag pahirap ito sa publiko. Siguradong magtataas ng pamasahe at bilihin habang ang kakayahang bumili ng tao ay hindi naman tumataas. Galit ba talaga sila sa mahihirap? Palagi na lang mahihirap ang biktima. Sa war on drugs, mahihirap ang biktima. Pati ba naman sa pagkolekta ng buwis, ang mahihirap pa din ang dapat pasakitan?” she asked.

De Lima also insisted on the need for the Executive to disclose where the additional revenues will be spent.

“Finally, is this necessary? Last year, they dropped the collection targets for BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) and BOC (Bureau of Customs) and now they want to impose additional taxes to increase revenue? Maybe they should focus more on fulfilling the President’s campaign promise to curb corruption in these revenue collection agencies to increase collection efficiency,” she said.

So far, Sen. Panfilo Lacson was the only one who said that he’s inclined to support the idea, provided, however, that there is a mechanism to cushion the impact on public transport and other freight-related industries.

“Having said that, I need to see how they will put that mechanism in place and find out if it is effective or at least implementable. To clarify, the public transport and freight services kasi ang gumagamit ng diesel fuel. I don’t care about the diesel-fed SUVs since the affluent sector who are using the same can afford higher diesel prices,” he said.

The plan to introduce new taxes on petroleum products is seen as a means of having additional revenues that will finance the Duterte administration’s infrastructure program estimated to be between P8 trillion to P9 trillion, Diokno said.

Under the plan, the covered products will be diesel which will be taxed at P6 per liter while the tax on gasoline will also be increased from P4.35 to P10 per liter.

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