Suspend oil excise tax to tame inflation: PCCI

MANILA — The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization, on Thursday called for the suspension of excise tax on petroleum products amid the surge in inflation rates posted this year.

PCCI President Alegria Sibal-Limjoco told reporters that the business group shared the same sentiment with the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) to halt further automatic increments in excise tax on oil in the coming years to tame inflationary pressure.

ECOP made a similar call early this week. “We go for that,” Sibal-Limjoco said as PCCI supports to ECOP’s statement.

She mentioned that the business group has sent a letter to the Department of Finance (DOF), requesting the suspension of this policy, which took effect under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law at the start of 2018.

But the DOF replied that it prefer to give subsidy under the Pantawid Pasada Program, which is also part of the TRAIN law, rather than suspend the additional duty on petroleum products, the PCCI chief said. “They are saying it’s better if they will give subsidy to those in need. But of course we will discuss it in PBC (Philippine Business Conference) and see… if it may change during the PBC,” she added.

Sibal-Limjoco said this recommendation will be included in the PBC Resolution that the PCCI annually submits to the head of state.

PCCI Chairman Emeritus Francis Chua earlier mentioned that this year’s PBC Resolutions would be different from the past since it will now present concrete solutions to the current problems and issues in the country. The PBC is slated on Oct. 18 to 19 at the Manila Hotel.

Meanwhile, under the TRAIN law, the government gradually increases excise tax on petroleum products over three years starting this year up to 2020 until it levies a total of PHP6 per liter on oil products.

But according to the law, imposing another increment in excise tax on oil will only be suspended if international crude prices “based on Mean of Platts Singapore (MOPS) for three months preceding the scheduled increase reaches or exceeds USD80 per barrel”. This means, the suspension could only happen if the MOPS index from October to December will hit at least an average of USD80 per barrel. (PNA-northboundasia.com