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Vice President Robredo urged gov’t do something on fuel excise tax, NFA

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With the surging price of fuel, basic goods and services, Vice President Leni Robredo urged the government to reconsider the fuel excise tax because it makes it harder for most Filipinos to catch up.

This is also the same calls made by LP lawmakers to suspend the provision in the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law that raised the excise tax on fuel wherein it levies P6 per liter of diesel, cooking gas, kerosene and bunker fuel, which wil be implemented incrementally until 2020.

At the same time, Robredo also recommended a review of the unconditional cash transfer program, which provides P200 in aid monthly to indigent Filipinos given the unexpected inflation hike that our country is facing.

The Vice President said in Filipino, “The Department of Finance admitted that they did not expect this jump in inflation. From the departments statement, it is now the time to consider if the increase in fuel excise tax is appropriate. It is also the time to review if the unconditional cash transfer amounting to P200 is enough and if the amount should be raised.”

 She also added that the government should also widen the scope of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program conditional cash transfer program and fix institutions such as the Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation.

For the first time, the Inflation jumped to a nine-year high of 5.7 percent in July on the back of higher food and transport cost. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has responded by raising its benchmark rates by a cumulative 100 basis points from May to August.

The central bank has projected August inflation to settle at around 5.9 percent from a range of 5.5 to 6.2 percent.

“We are hoping that the government will seriously look into our suggestions. Everyone, especially the poor, is affected by the spike in prices of goods and services,” she said.

On the issue of rice shortage

Robredo also made a suggestion to”fix” the leadership in the National Food Authority by choosing the “competent and trustworthy” agency head and immediately resolving the issue of rice shortage in the country.

She succinctly explained her view, “Each decision, especially on the rice importation, must be well-thought and well-planned and must have the consensus of the NFA Council and the NFA leadership. Therefore, NFA processes must be fair, clean and honest for the agency to focus on stabilizing the prices of rice.”

Duterte said on Sunday before his departure to Israel that he will not fire NFA Administrator Jason Aquino and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol over the rice crisis as he did not sees any “serious offense” committed amid the problems involving the country’s staple food.

Read related story: Piñol stays, Duterte rejects legalized ‘smuggling of rice’

However, Robredo disagreed with Duterte’s statement, saying that the rice crisis, which has led to a surge in prices of the staple food, is serious. She added,“It is a huge insult to poor Filipinos to say that the issue is not serious.”

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