Gov’t prepares rules for fuel subsidies | Inquirer News
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Gov’t prepares rules for fuel subsidies

Fuel pump stock photo, for story: Gov’t prepares rules for fuel subsidies

Fuel pump (STOCK PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — The government is fleshing out the guidelines on fuel subsidies for both the transportation and agricultural sectors as global oil prices spiked because of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

The Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) announced the fuel subsidies on Thursday as global oil prices surpassed the $100-per-barrel threshold for the first time since 2014.

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Oil companies have already raised the local cost of gasoline by P0.80 per liter, diesel by P0.65 per liter, and kerosene by P0.45 per liter, bringing the net cumulative increase in fuel prices this year to P10.85 a liter for diesel, P8.75 for gasoline, and P9.55 for kerosene.

The DBCC said it was ready to disburse P2.5 billion for fuel subsidies on top of P500 million for farmers and fisherfolk, but Malacañang said it would be up to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to interpret the law.

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The General Appropriations Act of 2022 provides funds to bankroll fuel subsidies to the transportation and agriculture sectors, but only if crude oil prices reach $80 per barrel for three consecutive months.

The Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), however, said it had already asked the DBM to expedite the matter.

“We requested the DBM in the last meeting with [LTFRB chair Martin Delgra] that it be liberal in the interpretation because the spirit of the law is to cushion [the] effect of the fuel price hike,” executive director Maria Kristina Cassion said at the Laging Handa briefing on Friday.

“Maybe we can be liberal in the three-month rule that Congress is saying we have to follow,” she said, noting that marginalized sectors are already feeling the impact of higher fuel prices.

Urgent need

Retired Commodore Eduardo Gongona, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director, said they had earmarked P250 million for transport assistance for fishers.

“The [Department of Agriculture]-BFAR is in the process of thoroughly developing guidelines for the implementation of this initiative and we expect to immediately distribute assistance to our fishermen once these guidelines are developed,” Gongona said in a text message.

The LTFRB, on the other hand, asked the DBM to expedite the release because successive oil price hikes have prompted transport groups to ask for a fare hike and the LTFRB has set a hearing of the petition on March 8.

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Lawmakers also rushed the Duterte administration to release the funds.

“I call on the Department of Transportation and [LTFRB] that this P2.5-billion subsidy be already given to our drivers as soon as possible. Just this year, there is a P10 increase in the prices of petroleum products,” said Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. even described the government response as “lackadaisical,” particularly in putting the strategic petroleum reserve plan in motion.

“Rather than taking their own sweet time about their strategic petroleum reserve plan to help stabilize the domestic supply and prices of petroleum products, energy officials should start working triple time,” Villafuerte said in a statement.

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TAGS: fuel prices, fuel subsidies, oil prices, Russia-Ukraine war
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