SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin Romualdez is set to gather major oil players and the Department of Energy’s officials today to explore “win-win” solutions that will address the seemingly endless series of oil price hikes.
The gathering will include the review of the imposition of excise tax or value-added tax (VAT) on oil and petroleum products, as well as possible amendments to the “Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act of 1998,” or Republic Act (RA) 8479.
Romualdez and House Committee on Energy officials will hold the 3 p.m. meeting at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.
As a start, he said the Lower Chamber can consider the possible review of laws imposing excise tax or VAT on oil and petroleum products, plus possible amendments to RA 8479, which “tied” the government’s hands in bringing down oil prices.
Several bills have been filed in Congress calling to suspend, or outright, scrap excise taxes imposed on petroleum products.
The provisional authority of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law or “TRAIN” to suspend the fuel excise tax imposition whenever the $80-price cap is breached ended in 2020.
There are also bills pending in Congress calling for amendments to RA 8479.
“We will try to find a win-win solution for our people and, of course, those in the oil industry,” the House Speaker said.
“No one is spared from the ill effects of the high cost of living due to oil price hikes. Everyone is struggling. [T]his is beyond anyone’s control,” said Romualdez. “If the price of crude oil in the world market increases, so do prices in the rest of the world.”
“But we want to sit down with these oil companies and discuss ways or suggestions on how we can alleviate the hardships of our fellow countrymen due to the constant rise in petroleum prices, [then] find common ground in areas that are within our control,” he added.
Invited to attend the consultative meeting as of Sunday were leaders of the House Committee on Energy, DOE officials led by Undersecretary Sharon Garin, Mia Delos Reyes of Petron Corp., Timothy James Laurel of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Tanya Samillano and Romina Antonio of the Independent Philippine Petroleum Companies Association, representatives from Chevron Phils. Inc., the Philippine Institute of Petroleum, Flying V, and Total Philippines Corp.
The solution, Romualdez said, can come from a united front of all stakeholders—oil companies and the government included.
“On our part in the government, we can compromise; perhaps what we can initially offer is a possible review of excise tax or [VAT] on oil and petroleum products,” Romualdez noted. “This is a good place to start.”
“Also, one possibility to look [into] is suspending the collection of excise taxes or VAT on oil and petroleum products, depending on the Palace’s plan after hearing our report of the result of this meeting,” he said.
ROMUALDEZ is also planning to talk to food manufacturers as well as the supermarket association after hinting that they, too, are planning to raise the prices of common goods with the series of oil price hikes.
“We will attempt to convince them to at least postpone their plans, if there are any, until after Christmas in the spirit of the Yuletide season,” said Romualdez. “The simultaneous increase in prices [and] the price of crude oil is too heavy on the pocket.”
“While we understand that even [they are affected by the situation],” the Speaker furthered. “But we will appeal to their sense of compassion and ask them if they can find a way to manage until Christmas.”
The House leader from Leyte said the government is doing its best to alleviate the situation of the people, “but what we are experiencing is a [global] crisis.”
“That’s why various agencies are ready to provide assistance, because the government also feels the people’s predicaments,” the lawmaker added.
Image credits: Roy Domingo