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Solon Seeks Activation of Anti-Profiteering Task Force Ahead of 2nd Oil Excise Tax Hike

With the second tranche of the looming oil excise tax just days away, Senator Win Gatchalian wants the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to form a joint task force that will guard against individuals and organizations that seek to profit from it by raising the prices of fuel products prematurely.

Under the second tranche of Republic Act No. 10936 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, an additional levy of PHP2.24 per liter will be imposed on fuel products.

Ngayon na naaprubahan na ni Pangulong Duterte ang implementation ng second tranche ng fuel excise tax sa susunod na taon, kailangan ng DOE at ng DTI na maging mas mapagmatiyag upang masiguro na walang hoarding at profiteering na magaganap sa bansa (Now that President Duterte has approved the implementation of the second tranche of fuel excise tax for next year, the DOE and DTI need to be more watchful to ensure that no hoarding and profiteering will happen in the country),” Gatchalian said.

According to the solon, due to the second round of excise tax hikes, the estimated rate impact on pump prices will be around PHP2 to PHP3 per liter.

Citing the DOE’s Department Circular No. 2003-01-001 or the “Implementing Guidelines for the Minimum Inventory Requirements of Petroleum of Oil Companies and Bulk Suppliers,” Gatchalian pointed out that oil companies must maintain a minimum inventory equivalent to 15-day supply of petroleum products.

However, the lawmaker also noted that the DOE had difficulties in monitoring the end inventory of bulk suppliers and oil companies and withdrawals from the depots of oil stock a month before the TRAIN law took effect in January 2018.

“These are the times that we should be very vigilant. We don’t want unscrupulous oil retailers taking advantage of the latest fuel tax hike by selling their old inventory products at a much higher price, even if they purchased it at a lower price,” the lawmaker said.

As for the DTI, Gatchalian urged the agency to closely monitor the prices of goods in the market as the second phase of the comprehensive tax reform measure takes effect next month, especially petroleum products.

The lawmaker also hopes that the government’s economic manager will not make the same mistake of failing into account the indirect effects of the fuel tax hike as he recalled that during one of the Senate committee hearings on inflation, the government economic managers underestimated the impact of the TRAIN Law.

As a result, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSB) reported that the country’s inflation rate accelerated to 6.8 percent in the third quarter of 2018. This brought the country’s year-to-date inflation to 5.13 percent.

Gatchalian believes that working class Filipinos will continue to experience price hikes in the coming months as the government proceeds with the implementation of the next round of fuel excise tax.

“By now, I expect our economic managers to be more well-equipped and well-prepared in terms of taming the country’s inflation for next year as the government proceeds with the implementation of the second tranche of the fuel excise tax hike,” he added.

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