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Nalulunod mga Pinoy sa taas ng presyo! Poe, Ejercito, Aquino seek suspension of fuel excise tax

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By Xave Gregorio

At least three senators have called for the excise taxes imposed by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law on fuel stopped as prices of goods continue to climb up.

Senators Bam Aquino and JV Ejercito, both vying for re-election in the 2019 polls, and Senator Grace Poe are calling for the suspension of excise taxes on fuel once Dubai crude oil reaches $80 a barrel in the world market.

The TRAIN Law already provides that excise taxes on fuel would be automatically suspended “when the average Dubai crude oil price based on Mean of Platts Singapore for three months prior to the scheduled increase of the month reaches or exceeds $80 per barrel.”

According to Platts, Dubai crude oil has already breached the $70 mark in March.

““Nalulunod na ang mga Pilipino sa taas ng presyo. Huwag na natin antayin na tumaas lalo ang bilihin,” Aquino said.

Aquino is calling on the government to “roll back” excise taxes on petroleum products immediately, despite the TRAIN Law only allowing for the suspension of further increases in excise taxes and not a rollback.

For her part, Poe called on the Department of Finance to consider suspending excise taxes on fuel imposed by the TRAIN Law at a Senate inquiry on the matter in Iloilo City.

“Bilang tulong sa ating mga kababayan, lalo na sa mga mahihirap, dapat na pag-aralan ng ahensya ang pagpapaliban sa full implementation ng TRAIN Law, partikular sa fuel excise taxes, dahil lahat ng produkto ay apektado nito,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ejercito cited rising inflation rates and fuel prices as reasons why he wants TRAIN’s excise taxes on fuel stopped.

“While we understand the need of government to increase revenues, we need to prioritize the protection of the public who are bearing the brunt of these high prices which is negating the increase in take home pay brought about by lower income taxes,” he said.

The TRAIN Law, which came into effect on New Year’s Day in 2018, slashed taxes on personal income but hiked excise taxes on certain goods and services, including fuel.

Four months after its implementation, the inflation rate has spiked to 4.5 percent, above the 4.2 percent maximum inflation rate targeted by the government.

Economic managers, however, downplayed the effects of TRAIN on inflation, saying that it is mostly driven by oil prices in the world market and the increase of sin taxes on tobacco products.

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