Solons push for taming inflation

Edcel Lagman
Edcel Lagman

MORE solons are calling for amending the law on excise taxes on fuel products to tame inflation.

In separate statements, both Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said they filed a bill and a resolution, respectively, to amend Republic Act No. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

Barbers’ House Bill No. 8369 states that excise taxes on fuel under the TRAIN Law will automatically revert to the old National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) rates of excise tax on fuel.

“Prices of fuel have increased significantly and will be much higher on the next tranche of implementation of TRAIN in 2019 and 2020. The increase on fuel prices affects the prices of basic goods and services as producers or manufacturers may pass production costs to consumers,” Barbers said.

Barbers also said that while the TRAIN Law gives relief to taxpayers due to lowering of personal income tax (PIT) rates, he noted that the burden falls heavily on the shoulders of minimum wage earners.

”Matagal na pong nagdurusa ang ating mga mahihirap na kababayan. Ang ating mga trabahador na hindi naman nababawasan ng income tax simula pa man, hindi nila naramdaman na nadagdagan ang pera na inuuwi nila sa kanilang mga pamilya. Ngunit ramdam na ramdam nila ang bigat ng pagtaas ng lahat ng presyo ng bilihin dahil sa pagtaas ng presyo ng langis,” Barbers stated.

Barbers also noted that Sec. 82 of the TRAIN Act seeks to mitigate the effects of the law by providing unconditional cash transfers, fuel vouchers to qualified PUJ franchise holders, fare discount, reduced price of NFA rice, and free skills training. However, the same section also states that to ensure that the grants will reach the legitimate beneficiaries, the National ID system must first be fully implemented.

For his part, Lagman is pushing for the approval of Joint Resolution No. 27, suspending the increases and scheduled increases in the excise taxes on fuel under the TRAIN 1 in order to lower the monstrous inflation rate.

“It is patently a flawed policy for the Philippines, an oil-importing country, to impose additional and higher excise taxes on petroleum products, while oil producing countries are even giving subsidies to maintain at low levels the pump prices of gasoline to protect consumers,” Lagman said.

The adverse situation is compounded by the increasing price of oil on the international market which has breached the $80 per barrel mark, the highest since November 2014.

“Assurances from the economic managers that the huge inflation rate is manageable and will be soon contained “cannot lift the burden of spiraling prices of goods and services on the public, particularly the marginalized and disadvantaged sectors,” he added.

Joint Resolution No. 27 also demanded that the government must exhaust all complementary measures to confront the inflation problem by addressing other causes of inflation.

Marikina City Rep. Romero Quimbo also called for removing the excise taxes on fuel products.