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Solons look into fuel excise tax freeze

House leaders will study measures that call for the lifting of the excise tax on fuel, the chairman of the committee on ways and means said Friday.

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Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing said her panel will still need to consult with its members in deciding on a resolution filed by opposition congressmen, among others, suspending the excise tax increases on fuel and oil products in a bid to address the soaring prices of basic goods.

“This has not been calendared yet and so the committee has yet to deliberate on the matter,” Suansing told the Manila Standard.

She said the committee will come up with a collegial decision that is beneficial for the public, at a proper time.

Suansing made the statement in response to the clamor of administration senators for the suspension of a looming increase in the excise tax on fuel. The senators said this will ease the burden on consumers, who have been reeling from the continued increase in prices.

Suansing said her committee will deliberate on House Joint Resolution 27 when Congress resumes session next month.

Pending the collective decision of the House leadership on the matter, Suansing said the government has extended the much-needed assistance to the people to cushion the impact of skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, including fuel. These include the fuel vouchers being distributed to jeepney operators and drivers to help them cope with the higher excise tax on fuel.

On Sept. 10, 16 opposition lawmakers filed the HJR 27, which calls for the immediate suspension of the excise tax increases and scheduled increases on fuel and oil products provided under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law.

House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. earlier said the House leadership would ask the National Price Coordinating Council to submit a report on measures it has adopted to address the rising prices of goods.

In their joint resolution, the lawmakers said a suspension was needed in light of the 6.4 percent inflation in August and the rising price and short supply of rice.

Reps. Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte and Federico Quimbo of Marikina City, have also filed bills seeking to freeze the excise tax on fuel. The bills have yet to be referred to the Suansing’s panel, however.

Barbers’ HB 8369 sought the repeal of the excise tax imposed on fuels under the TRAIN Law.

Quimbo’s House Bill 8171 proposes to return to zero the excise taxes on kerosene and diesel imposed by TRAIN.

Quimbo’s bill also provides for the automatic suspension of the implementation of fuel excise tax increases under TRAIN when inflation exceeds the government’s quarterly target.

Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee R. Marcos, meanwhile, said the government can make up for revenue loss from the value-added tax suspension she has proposed.

“A combination of 10 percent improvement in income tax collection and other measures can generate P362 billion. That would replace the VAT that would be missed,” Marcos said.

She added that although the substitute combination she suggests will take some effort, she pointed out that “it can be done and done well.”

“I have confidence in the leadership and persuasive powers of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, NEDA Director General Ernesto Pernia, and other economic bloc members over the BIR and other revenue agencies. I am not asking for the impossible,” she said.

“Having been a governor and congresswoman, I am very aware of what can be done as regards tax administration and collection,” she added.

VAT revenues can be covered by other sources of revenue, increased efficiency in government operations, and the growth in excise taxes.

“The suspension of the VAT would provide immediate relief to Filipino consumers. The temporary suspension of the VAT on basic necessities such as food and fuel products would be immediately perceptible by millions of Filipino families,” she said.

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Topics: Estrellita Suansing , excise tax , House Joint Resolution 27
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