Suspend excise taxes on fuel amid growing tensions in Middle East — labor group
MANILA, Philippines – A labor group has asked the administration to suspend the excise taxes on fuel products, as tensions grow in the oil-rich Middle East due to the recent United States (US) airstrike.
According to the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), President Rodrigo Duterte should stop the third tranche and the other already-implemented excise taxes of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law as oil prices may skyrocket with the US-Iran conflict.
“The President should quit dilly-dallying and immediately issue an executive order that will suspend the collection of excise and value added taxes on oil to avert inflationary impacts on commodities,” BMP chair Leody de Guzman said in a statement on Sunday.
“He must have the foresight and diligence to act swiftly in behalf of our struggling countrymen,” he added.
After Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq — upon orders from US president Donald Trump — oil prices have risen by over four percent.
BMP noted that Brent crude oil rose to $69.16 per barrel while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices are at $63.84 per barrel.
Further increases would have a detrimental effect on the lives of poor Filipinos, De Guzman said, as market prices of basic goods are also predicated by delivery and transportation costs — all of which need fuel.
“Majority of Filipinos live in poverty. Any increase in prices would be harsh, if not fatal, not only to four-tenths of our labor force that belong to the informal economy but also to those in the formal sector who are already suffering from stagnated and starvation wages,” the labor leader explained.
And if prices are high, the administration should sacrifice for a while to alleviate the potential sufferings of the people. The TRAIN law, which was enacted last December 2017, has been targeted to fund the government’s large infrastructure program.
Even prior to the US airstrike, groups have warned that oil prices may rise to as high as P7 per liter, as an additional P1.50 per liter of excise taxes for diesel will be implemented in January 2020. Other fuel like gasoline would increase by P1.85 per liter, kerosene at P1.35 per liter, and bunker fuel and petroleum coke by P1.50.
“The Duterte regime is duty-bound to protect the welfare of the Filipino people, above all. It should sacrifice and share the burden for the sake of the people,” De Guzman said.
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