Lawmakers continue clamor for fuel tax freeze

MANILA With October inflation staying at 6.7 percent, a lawmaker at the House of Representatives on Tuesday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) regulations, implementing the fuel excise taxes of 2018 and 2019.

House committee on banks and financial intermediaries chairman Henry Ong said the President can order the Department of Finance to suspend the implementing revenue regulations of the BIR while those regulations undergo revisions to cushion the inflationary impact.

While the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) law had lots of good intentions, it took effect in a perfect storm of high world oil prices and peso depreciation versus the US dollar, so the 3-in-1 mix is what led to the economic mess we are in today. Both the fuel excise taxes this year and next year must be stopped now," Ong said.

Meanwhile, Marikina City Rep. Miro Quimbo sought the passage of a measure, seeking to repeal the excise taxes on diesel and kerosene.

Other lawmakers who backed the removal of excise taxes on fuel products include Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.

Quimbo also called for a more responsive mechanism for the suspension of all other excise taxes imposed under TRAIN.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, said the President's directives, including supplying the country with food, and other measures undertaken by the departments of finance, trade, and agriculture, have helped steady the inflation rate.

Earlier, Duterte signed Administrative Order No. 13 to streamline procedures on the import of agricultural products, including rice, as well as Memorandum Order Nos. 26, 27, and 28 to stabilize the prices of basic agricultural commodities, maintain enough supply, and protect consumers against hoarding, profiteering, and cartels.

Duterte is currently reviewing the recommendation of the government's economic managers to suspend another PHP2-per-liter excise tax, starting January next year after the Department of Finance estimated that crude prices will stay above the USD80 threshold in the coming months. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency