House now eyeing bigger fuel discount over excise tax suspension — Tulfo
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives leadership is backtracking on its proposal to suspend excise taxes and value added tax (VAT) on fuel products, as ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo said on Tuesday that they have asked oil companies to grant bigger discounts instead.
In an interview with reporters at the House complex, Tulfo said that oil companies promised to provide discounts.
“So what they’re saying is, what they are volunteering to do is discounts. But if you look at it intently, that’s not enough eh. The P1 discount for jeepney, taxi, buses, P1 for diesel, P2 for gasoline, but even before the world crisis, this has been done already. Prices of gasoline was at P50 back then, and we have discounts. So it is meaningless already,” Tulfo said in English and Filipino.
“What we are asking now, maybe they can increase their discounts by another P2, or P1, and then they include the riding public. Because the people with cars, motorcycles are also affected. How about motorists? That’s what we’re asking from them. Thank you for the discounts, the small players are selling their fuel cheap. But maybe the big three can increase their discounts too,” he added.
Tulfo said it is almost impossible to remove taxes — as he initially stated — as it might result in another huge deficit for the annual budget.
“It’s hard to do that because the Department of Finance is complaining, if we remove the taxes, that’s easy to say. But we stand to lose over P15 billion of revenues by December. Where would we source that? Yearly our budget has been on a deficit, then you would reduce that again? That seems unfair,” he noted.
Last September 18 — after the first meeting between House lawmakers led by Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and oil companies — Tulfo announced that the House was leaning towards suggesting a VAT and excise tax suspension for oil products.
Several lawmakers, like economists Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo, however appealed for a more thorough study on such proposals as it would affect revenue generation.
Salceda said reduction, instead of totally removing taxes, is an option. Quimbo on the other hand reminded her colleagues that the economy is growing at a slower-than-predicted rate for the second quarter of 2023.
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno also said that such proposals would do more harm than good, while other economists noted that such a proposal does not affect oil companies which already huge revenues.
The pump price of gasoline and diesel is in the P70 to P75 per liter range.