Lawmaker backs Pantawid Pasada for the middle class


Posted at Sep 18 2023 09:23 AM

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A lawmaker on Monday said the government's Pantawid Pasada Program should benefit not just the poorest of the poor but also the middle class who are affected by spiraling fuel prices. 

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said he is backing an increase in government fuel subsidies as consumers suffer an 11th round of oil price hikes this week. 

"Ang nakikita ko lang defect sa Pantawid Pasada ay hindi natin natutulungan 'yung middle class natin. Marami sa middle class bumibili nang sasakyan dahil alam naman natin 'yung public transportation natin ay masikip at hindi ganun ka-episyente," he said in a TeleRadyo Serbisyo. 

According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, the government defines the middle class as those earning incomes between two to 12 times the poverty line, or around ₱24,000 and ₱145,000 in family income. 

The Department of Budget and Management earlier approved the release of P3 billion in fuel subsidy for 1.36 million drivers nationwide. The subsidies range from P10,000 for modernized public utility jeepneys to P1,000 for tricycle drivers. 

In the interview, Gatchalian said a proposal to suspend fuel excise taxes needs careful study, saying the tax cut would deplete government revenues. 

The current excise tax rates for major petroleum products are 10 per liter for gasoline, P6 per liter for diesel, P5 per liter for kerosene, and P3 per liter for LPG. 

"Pagtinanggal natin ang excise tax, pati 'yung mga mayayaman, 'yung mga may-kaya ay mae-enjoy itong pagtanggal ng excise tax," he said in a TeleRadyo Serbisyo interview. 

"Napansin ko kahit mataas ang presyo ng petrolyo, marami sa mga mayayaman ay hindi naman nagpalit ng habit sa pagbabawas ng byahe."

Instead of a fuel excise tax suspension, Gatchalian urged government to provide more relief to vulnerable sectors via its Pantawid Pasada Program.