House leader backs oil price unbundling

MANILA – A leader of the House of Representatives on Wednesday said Congress should review the unbundling of the oil prices and the inclusion of the minimum inventory requirements provision to the Oil Deregulation Law amid skyrocketing oil prices.

House Committee on Economic Affairs Sharon Garin said the country experienced an average increase of PHP5-5.85 per liter in diesel prices and PHP3.6 per liter for gasoline.

Garin further cited Mean of Platss Singapore estimates that by March 15, there would be PHP12.80 and PHP8.30 increases per liter of diel and gas.

She said this is already an emergency, and Congress should at least mitigate the effects of the oil price increases to “our already ailing economy”.

“If and when, the House convenes a special session, there should be a review on the unbundling of the oil prices and the inclusion of the minimum inventory requirements provision to the Oil Deregulation Law as proposed by the Department of Energy (DOE) in the agenda. Even if we have enough supply for the next 40 days, the rising cost of oil prices will surely warrant the suspension of certain taxes so we can give relief to the affected sectors,” she said.

Garin said while the petitions for fare hikes are already being discussed by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and programs such as the fuel subsidy under the 2022 General Appropriations Act would help public utility drivers, Congress should intervene by fast tracking the discussion on measures that seek to suspend the excise tax on oil.

She estimated that at least PHP6 per liter would be removed from current retail prices if the excise tax on oil is suspended.

“We cannot just sit back and watch whatever economic gains from relaxing restrictions from the last three months go down the drain. If we hold the special session now, we can pass a measure in just a day and the President (Rodrigo Duterte) can sign it immediately. Otherwise, we would have to wait until after the elections to discuss these measures. By then, it might be too late,” she said.

House Energy Committee chair Juan Miguel Arroyo, for his part, said the loss from the suspension of fuel excise tax could actually be compensated by the windfall profit the government earned through the extra collections it made on value added tax (VAT) and excise tax brought about by the spate of fuel price increases in recent weeks.

Arroyo said the lawmakers, even if most of them are back in their respective districts, are on standby should President Duterte call for a special session to address the fuel crisis. (PNA)

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