Press Release
October 5, 2018


SENATOR Joseph Victor Ejercito said yesterday there is still a way for the government to ease the burden of families suffering from high prices of basic goods due to rising fuel prices.

Ejercito said while Republic Act 1063 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) provides for the suspension of excise taxes on fuel once the prices of Dubai crude hits $80 per barrel, its implementation is not as quick as the Department of Finance (DOF) portray it to be.

This basis for the suspension of the added excise tax on fuel was one of the safety nets under the Senate version of the TRAIN measure.

"The IRR (implementing rules and regulations) of the TRAIN can be improved to allow faster relief for our families if oil prices continue to surge," Ejercito said.

He said the IRR apparently has not been clear and explicit on exactly how to go about triggering the suspension of the excise taxes, which could give the DOF an excuse to drag its feet.

The senator said the TRAIN also provides that the DOF and the Development Budget and Coordinating Council will still have to meet and review the implementation of the excise taxes before recommending any suspension.

Worse, such recommendation would only be made on an annual basis, and any suspension shall not result in any reduction of the excise tax being imposed at the time of the suspension, he said.

Another safety net in the Senate version was the suspension of the scheduled increase in the excise tax on fuel for the period covering 2018 to 2020 when the inflation rate exceeds the annual target of the government. But this was not included TRAIN law.

The inflation rate continues to soar, reaching 6.4 percent last August, the highest in 9 years.

"The wait for any suspension is too long. If the DOF would not want to tweak the IRR, Congress can act fast to make amendments to the TRAIN. After all, we're just talking about a few provisions," Ejercito said.

He said the provisions on the review and the three-month averaging could be shortened to allow the government to act faster in suspending excise taxes on petroleum products.

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