MANILA - The poor are bearing the brunt of rising commodity prices due to the first package of tax reforms, a lawmaker who is pushing for the suspension of higher duties on fuel said Wednesday.
Under Sen. Bam Aquino's proposal, additional excise taxes on petroleum products should be suspended if inflation breaches the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' target for 3 consecutive months.
Unlike the price of oil in the world market or the value of the peso against the dollar, the government can control the implementation of taxes to provide relief to consumers, he said.
"Kailangan muna magpreno sa TRAIN. Ang dami na nasasagasaan dito," Aquino said, referring to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion.
(We need to put the brakes on TRAIN for the meantime. Many have been run over.)
Consumer prices rose 4.5 percent in April, the highest in over 5 years, and overshooting the BSP's 2 to 4 percent target. Earlier this month, the regulator raised the benchmark borrowing rate for the first time since September 2014 to contain inflation.
Aquino said lawmakers would find additional sources of funding for the government's infrastructure program if the Executive was fearful that suspending the oil taxes would compromise the construction of new roads, bridges and airports.
Aside from higher taxes on fuel, TRAIN also raised duties on sugar-sweetened drinks and cars. It also reduced income tax rates, providing relief for middle income workers.