PILIPINAS Shell Petroleum Corp. (PSPC) sees no reason to oppose the looming excise tax on diesel fuel provided that it is implemented in a coordinated manner with the other income tax adjustments planned by the government.
“At the moment we remain confident that the growth of the economy will continue to be healthy despite the looming excise taxes. It will make pump prices higher, but actually that’s still lower than what we’ve seen before,” PSPC President Cesar G. Romero said in an interview on Friday.
The House of Representatives is set to decide on a measure increasing the excise tax on diesel by P6 per liter next Monday.
The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) bill seeks to increase fuel taxes to offset the effect of the income tax exemption for those earning P250,000 a year and below.
“If it is implemented in a comprehensive manner with the income and corporate taxes, with all of the adjustments, and then simplification of how income taxes are paid, and more stringent support on anti-smuggling, then I think it could be good for the country,” Romero added.
Rep. Joey Salceda of Albay, an economist and one of the authors of the Train bill, downplayed the cascading effect of higher fuel taxes not only on diesel but also on gasoline, aviation fuel, kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas, bunker fuel oil, among others.
“Oil is the commodity of the rich. The consumption of the top one percent of this country is equal to the consumption of the lowest 50 percent. Any effect on the lowest 50 percent will be returned to them. But for the top one percent, their payment of additional fuel taxes will go to the government for funding of infrastructure projects and other social services,” Salceda pointed out.
“Besides, there is a way to cushion, if not reverse, the impact because of the monthly subsidy which could amount to as much as P600 per month,” he added.
Salceda was referring to the P48 billion subsidy dubbed as the Social Benefits Program, which will be funded through 40 percent of the expected P120 billion government revenues to be raised as a result of the Train bill.
Under the Social Benefits Program, qualified beneficiaries will be provided a Social Benefit Card. Fuel vouchers will be given to qualified transport franchise holders.
This government subsidy, however, is only good for three years since the increased fuel taxes will be staggered over a period of three years.