Government sees surplus revenue as a source of fuel subsidies

FILE PHOTO: Jeepneys on the road. APPLICANT

MANILA, Philippines — The government will tap into excess revenue for the additional 2.5 billion pesos in fuel subsidies the economic team has offered President Rodrigo Duterte as relief amid an oil price tsunami.

The Undersecretary for Socio-Economic Planning, Rosemarie Edillon, said Tuesday (March 8) during a press briefing at the Palace that the initial subsidies of 2.5 billion pesos on fuel for drivers of public utility vehicles ( PUV) and 500 million pesos in fuel rebates for farmers and fishermen were already part of the P5. 0.02 trillion national budget 2022.

The first installment of the PUV Drivers Fuel Grant has yet to be released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) pending completion of the documentary requirements by the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

The DOTr-affiliated agency – Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) – will distribute fuel vouchers to 377,000 PUV drivers. Budget Undersecretary Rolando Toledo told a House hearing last Monday (March 7) that the DOTr had until this week to comply with all requirements.

On Monday evening, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, also head of the National Economic Development Authority (Neda), told Duterte that among the mitigation measures proposed by the Economic Development Cluster (EDC ), there was the doubling to 5 billion pesos of the fuel subsidy program for PUV.

“We will double the grant, and the first installment will be paid in March, and the second installment in April,” Chua said.

Chua added that the economic team wanted to more than double the amount of fuel vouchers for agricultural producers to 1.1 billion pesos, in two tranches to be granted this month and next month.

“By then, we will have additional revenue to fund these grants,” the Neda chief said.

Edillon said Neda officials were awaiting tax collection figures in March because excess revenue would fund appropriations not scheduled in the budget. In addition to additional amounts exceeding the revenue program, external borrowing also financed unprogrammed budget items.

National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon confirmed on Tuesday that the revenue collected will likely exceed the program by the time additional fuel subsidies need to be disbursed. “I understand that additional fuel subsidies will be in April. We then have the excess revenue to fund,” she said.

De Leon did not specify where this expected excess revenue would come from.

In addition to fuel subsidies, Chua told Duterte that the government would continue to work with private companies to maintain the promotional discount of 1 to 4 pesos per liter offered by oil companies to PUVs like jeepneys.

The government also plans to increase the country’s oil buffer stock to 45 days from the current 30 days, Chua said, though he told the president that would require enabling legislation from Congress.


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