National

Fuel excise tax suspension still needed despite price rollbacks – lawmaker

Fuel excise tax suspension still needed despite price rollbacks – lawmaker

MANILA, Philippines — Proposals to suspend the imposition of excise taxes on certain fuel products should be immediately acted on despite the recent rollback in prices, a lawmaker said Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters during the Ugnayan sa Batasan forum, Quezon City 4th District Rep. Bong Suntay said the legislation of the fuel excise tax suspension remains imperative to make sure measures would be in place in anticipation of fluctuating costs of petroleum goods.

“Of course kailangan ituloy pa natin. Kaya nga dapat immediate action eh, kasi ‘yong nangyayari kasi, ‘yong problema ng, if it’s a legislative (issue), matagal ‘yong legislative process. Di natin nadedeliver ‘yong kailangang solution on time,” Suntay said.

“Pero irregardless, kung ngayon ay medyo pababa na ‘yong presyo ng gasolina, it doesn’t mean na dapat nating itigil ‘yong approval ng House measure. ‘Yong House measure on Monday was on second reading […] tapos no’n pupunta pa ‘yan, papanhik pa sa Senado,” he added.

He noted that the recent decreases in the prices of fuel do not mean that the cost of crude oil has gone back to $65 per barrel – the threshold set by the still unnumbered substitute bill that was approved by the House ways and means committee last November 11.

The House ways and means committee headed by Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda approved a substitute bill to House Bill No. 10438 that would suspend excise taxes on diesel, liquified petroleum gas, and kerosene while reducing rates for other oil products.

“Itong hinihingi natin is just a short reprieve. Actually, doon sa panukalang aming hinain we were just asking six months. And willing pa kaming maglagay ng ano do’n, a section na ‘pag kunyari bumaba sa $65 per barrel eh ibabalik na uli ‘yong additional na excise tax,” Suntay said.

“So ngayon hindi pa naman umaabot sa threshold na nilagay namin na $65 to a barrel, so siguro at this point kailangan pa rin natin bagamat on two consecutive weeks bumaba, the way I look at it, alam mo lalong-lalo na papasok ang taglamig sa ibang bansa gaya ng sa Amerika at Europa, maaaring tumaas ulit ‘yong presyo eh,” he continued.

Since 2020, Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act imposed a P6 excise per liter or kilogram of bunker fuel oil, diesel fuel oil, and petroleum coke; P10 per liter of unleaded gasoline; P3 per kilogram of liquefied petroleum gas or LPG; and P5 per liter of kerosene.

Before the enforcement of the TRAIN Act in 2018, bunker and diesel fuel oil, kerosene, and LPG were not slapped with any excise.

Under the proposal, excise tax on a liter of low-octane gasoline will be pegged at P4.35 while it will remain at P10 a liter for premium gasoline.

A bill also seeking the suspension of excise tax once the average price of Dubai crude oil hits $80 per barrel was also filed in the Senate by Senator Grace Poe.

For Suntay, the House proposal would get support in the Senate noting that the discussions might revolve only on how much would the threshold be.

“I feel that it will gain support in the Senate.  I believe there is a similar measure filed. Siguro ang paguusapan na lang, ‘yong sinasabi ko ngang threshold.  At what particular price ng crude oil per barrel ang magtitrigger ng suspension ng sinasabi kong pagpataw ng additional na excise tax,” he added.

Until early November, oil prices have surged with pump prices of gasoline and other petroleum products going up by more than P7 per liter in less than two months.

At the height of the price increases, some fuel stations sold unleaded gasoline at over P70 per liter and diesel at over P60 per liter.

On Tuesday, however, pump prices have gone down again driving total price rollbacks at over P3.00 a liter which led to discussions on whether to pursue proposals pending in Congress on the suspension of excise tax.