MANILA -- (UPDATED) The government is suspending the implementation of the second tranche of fuel excise taxes, originally scheduled next year, to keep inflation in check, the Department of Finance (DOF) confirmed Sunday.
Special Assistant to the President Bong Go earlier said the government was suspending the second tranche of fuel excise taxes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN).
In a statement, the DOF confirmed Go's announcement, saying this was being made 2 months before the time required by law, to "proactively anchor inflation expectations."
"After consulting the leadership of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as the economic team, the President is confident that this course of action will help anchor inflation expectations for the coming year, allow the public to manage their finances better, and disallow hoarders and profiteers from taking advantage of the situation," the DOF said.
Secretary Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also confirmed Go's announcement, saying economic managers agreed to suspend the additional excise fuel taxes before it takes effect in January 2019.
"We already committed to suspend it in the meantime, to give a relief to those who have been burdened by the increase in the excise tax on oil during this year," he told reporters at a presidential function in Manila Sunday.
Pernia said the temporary suspension was agreed upon by the NEDA, the DOF and the Department of Budget and Management in Bali, Indonesia during the ASEAN Leaders Gathering earlier this week.
Starting January 2019, TRAIN was supposed to add another P2 excise tax per liter to the cost of diesel and gasoline. This would take the total excise tax for diesel to P4.50 and for gasoline to P9.
The excise tax was already hiked this year by P2.50 per liter for diesel and P7 per liter for gasoline.
The law provides that this hike could be temporarily suspended if the average price of Dubai crude in the world market reach or go higher than $80 per barrel for the 3 months leading to January.
"We foresee that the price of oil is likely to hit that average in the coming 3 months after the new year, so we already agreed we can suspend, we can put on hold the increase in the excise tax on oil starting January," Pernia said.
He added that lawmakers in Congress also made an appeal to the executive branch and to President Rodrigo Duterte to issue a reprieve on the excise tax.
Pernia said the suspension would not be rescinded even if the average world oil prices in the next 2 months do not reach the $80 per barrel requirement.
The DOF said the cost of Dubai crude is expected to stay above the $80 threshold. -- with a report from Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News