Speedier release of fuel subsidy pressed

December 13, 2018
Grace Poe
Grace Poe

SENATOR Grace Poe has urged anew the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to fast track the release of fuel subsidy to jeepney drivers and operators, at the same time lamenting that only a third or an equivalent of P345 million of this year’s P977 million budget for the subsidy so far has been distributed to beneficiaries.

“Matatapos na ang taon pero tila kulang na kulang pa rin ang ayudang ibinibigay ng gobyerno sa mga tsuper. Bagamat bumababa na ngayon ang presyo ng petrolyo, ang laki na ng nalugi sa kanila dahil sa sunod-sunod na pagtaas nung nakaraan. Dapat naman sanang ibigay na ‘yan nang wala nang kondisyon dahil kasama ‘yan sa batas,” Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, said in a statement.

Only 69,065 ‘Pantawid Pasada’ cards containing P5,000 subsidy each have been distributed to drivers and operators, out of a total of 171,836 recipients, Poe was told.  Poe learned about this during the marathon debates of the proposed P74.39 billion budget of the Department of Transportation this week.

Transport officials cited different reasons for the delay in the rollout of the subsidy: the franchise holder was out of the country, transfer of franchise was not reflected in their database, or either the franchise holder was dead or ill.

“Matagal na dapat ginawa ito, dapat i-update ang listahan ng mga benepisyaryo dahil wala pa sa kalahati ang nabibigyan kahit may bago na namang nakaambang pagtaas ng presyo ng petrolyo bunsod ng panibagong excise taxes sa susunod na taon,” Poe said.

The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, which overhauled the income tax regime and increased the ceiling for tax-exempt salaries, imposed a P3 tax for every liter of kerosene, P2.50 for every liter of diesel and bunker fuel, and P1 for every kilogram of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Next year, excise taxes will increase to P4 for kerosene, P4.50 for diesel, P9 for gasoline, and P2 for LPG.

Around P40 billion in additional revenues will be generated by the second round of excise taxes under the TRAIN.

For 2019, the fuel subsidy will increase to P20,514 or P1,709 per month for every beneficiary, compared with the P5,000 subsidy for this year.