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Senior legislator to take up fuel excise freeze in next Congress

PHILSTAR FILE PHOTO

A SENIOR LEGISLATOR who could be in line for a leadership post in the next Congress said he wants to suspend the collection of fuel excise taxes when the new administration takes over.

Representative Rufus B. Rodriguez, the current deputy Speaker, said he plans to refile a bill shelving the collection of fuel taxes for four years — the period he estimates is needed to recover from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the effects of the Ukraine-Russia war.

“Enacting the bill will cut pump prices by P6 per liter for diesel, P3 per kilogram for liquefied petroleum gas, P5 for kerosene, and P5.65 per liter for gasoline,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. The proposal addresses the tax increase on fuel imposed under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

“The suspension will bring immediate relief to our people,” he added.

Oil prices are expected to rise further after the European Union’s (EU) decision to ban oil imports from Russia by the end of the year, equivalent to 90% of the current shipments. Russia currently supplies 27% of the EU’s imported oil and 40% of its gas. Similarly, the UK has also said that it will phase out Russian oil, which accounts for 8% of its oil demand, by year’s end.

Some international price benchmarks for crude oil rose past $110 per barrel following the EU’s decision, Mr. Rodriguez said.

Mr. Rodriguez expects the bill to benefit those hardest hit by the pandemic — including the tourism and aviation industries. The cost of goods is also expected to drop.

The proposed law will also cover bunker fuel oil, he added, which is used for generating electricity and whose tax under the TRAIN Law is P6 per liter.

Mr. Rodriguez also opposed a proposal by the Finance department to impose new taxes to pay down the P12.7-trillion national debt, saying, “Let’s not add to our people’s financial burden.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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