MANILA - The Department of Finance (DOF) has proposed P33.1 billion worth of subsidy for poor Filipino households this year amid skyrocketing fuel prices, saying this was a better alternative to suspending fuel taxes.
During President Rodrigo Duterte's taped address to the nation aired early Wednesday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the unconditional cash transfer would be given to the "bottom 50 percent of all Filipino households."
Dominguez said some 12 million poor households will benefit from this, each of which would get around P2,400 this year. It was not immediately clear during the official's presentation how the cash aid would be distributed.
"We realized that this is not enough but this is what we can afford as of this time. And to make sure that our finances, going forward and especially for the next administration are still going to be healthy, this I believe is what we can afford," the official explained.
"Retain the fuel excise taxes imposed under TRAIN Law; provide targeted subsidies to the lowest 50 percent of the households in the Philippines," he added.
In a statement, the DOF said suspending excise taxes on fuel would also benefit the top 10 percent or the rich instead of poor households.
The top 10 percent of the country's households are estimated to use up to around 48.8 percent of the country's total fuel consumption while the bottom 50 use about 13.9 percent, the DOF said.
“This means that with the suspension of fuel excise taxes, we are supporting higher income households more than lower income households,” Dominguez said.
FUEL SUBSIDY, DISCOUNT
The finance chief added that some P6.1 billion has been allotted for fuel subsidy and discount vouchers for transport drivers and farmers. The government released some P3 billion last week, authorities said.
This means, Dominguez said, that another tranche of P2.5 billion for public utility drivers and P600 for farmers and fisherfolk will be released by next month.
Oil companies on Tuesday increased the price of diesel by P13.15 per liter and gasoline by P7.10 per liter.
Since the start of the year, diesel prices have increased by P30.65 per liter, gasoline by P20.35 per liter, and kerosene by P21.90, based on data from the Department of Energy and the most recent price increase.