“My fearless forecast, very soon, maybe in two to three months, the government will be desperately seeking for ways to prevent another round of price increase in petroleum products.”
With prices of petroleum products skyrocketing on a weekly basis, Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino is moving for the suspension of the first tranche of the excise tax on petroleum products by filing Senate Bill No. 1798 known as the “Bawas Presyo Bill.”
Aquino who was in Bohol for two days felt the pulse of the people on the drastic increase in prices of basic commodities thru visits in public markets in the province.
Interviewed over DYRD “Inyong Alagad” on August 2, 2018, Aquino explained the rationale of his bill filed on May 10, 2018, providing for the automatic suspension of the excise tax on fuel under Republic Act (RA No.10963) known as the “Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN)
Under the TRAIN Law, the excise tax on regular and unleaded gasoline is P7 per liter this year, an additional P2 per liter next year and P1 per liter in 2020 for a total of P10.
Diesel oil which had no excise tax under the old law is now taxed per liter at P2.50 this year, additional P2 in 2019 and P1.50 in 2020 for a total of P6.
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) excise tax is P3 per liter spread in three years.
According to Aquino, there are more than 10 million Filipino families that consider themselves poor and grappling with the rising prices of rice, sardines, electricity and transportation fares.
With inflation hovering over six percent in the Visayas and no relief in sight, Aquino believes that his “Bawas Presyo Bill” providing for the immediate suspension of the fuel excise tax will lower prices of basic commodities.
Aquino explained that in his “Bawas Presyo Bill” excise tax on fuel under the TRAIN Law will be automatically rolled back when the average inflation rate surpasses the annual inflation target over a three-month period.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the inflation rate rose from 4.5%, 4.6% and 5.2% from April to June, the highest since October 2011.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) targeted an inflation rate ranging from two to four percent this year.
Aquino challenged the government to “act now” because “next year is too late.”
The Liberal Party senator said that it would be “unconscionable” for the government to continue to impose the fuel tax on top of rising prices of basic commodities hit by the domino effect of the high price of petroleum products.
Prices of petroleum products in Tagbilaran for diesel is P48.71 per liter and an average of P55.60 per liter for unleaded gasoline while LPG range from P8300 to as high as P950 per 11kg. tank.
According to the Department of Energy (DOE), oil companies increased the price of LPG in August 2018 by P19.25/11kilogram cylinder.
Despite a provision under the TRAIN law that will suspend the fuel excise tax if the world price of oil reaches $80 per barrel, Aquino said: “we have little control over global fuel prices, the imposition of the excise tax is in our hands.”
In his explanatory note to his “Bawas Presyo Bill”, Aquino stressed that “it is our responsibility to be flexible and responsive when the weight of inflation becomes too heavy for the poor Filipino families to bear.” (Chito M. Visarra)