SUSPENDING excise tax on oil products is an option being considered to ease inflation, President Duterte said on Tuesday.
“Maybe,” Duterte told reporters after administering the oath of new officers of the Malacañang Press Corps in Malacañang.
Duterte’s economic managers earlier said the rising prices of petroleum products is the main contributor to the inflation surge.
“Kaya kita mo pag sabi price increase, kinabukasan ang pan de sal, susunod ’yan. ’Pag sinabing price increase sa oil is now 154 or 156 per barrel. Tataas lahat ’yan [When you say price increase, the next day pan de sal will be next. When you say price increase in oil is now 154 or 156 per barrel. Everything will go up],”
Under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, the government can suspend the implementation of the higher excise tax if oil prices in the world market will hit $80 per barrel.
The President, meanwhile, lamented anew that the Philippines did not have its own oil production and relied on supply from oil-producing nations.
“Ang Indonesia, may reserve. Malaysia, may reserve. Tayo, wala. So every time magbili tayo ng gasolina, we use our savings [Indonesia has a reserve. Malaysia has a reserve. But we don’t (have oil reserves). So every time we buy gas, we use our savings],” Duterte said.
Aside from the possible suspension of the excise tax on oil, Duterte earlier issued three directives to concerned government agencies in an effort to cushion the impact of oil-price hikes on Filipinos.
He ordered the Department of Trade and Industry to monitor and arrest traders who take advantage of the oil-price hike by raising prices further, the Department of Labor and Employment to meet and consider raising minimum wage, and the Department of Energy to import cheaper oil products from countries that are not members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), such as Russia.
At present, the Philippines sources fuel from Opec member-states.