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ECOP supports the suspension of oil excise tax to temper inflation

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The Employer Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) backed the call of labor groups and lawmakers for the suspension of the excise tax on petroleum products.

In the public hearing conducted, ECOP Governor Antonio Abad, said that there is really a need for the government to lift the imposition of additional taxes on oil products as this would worsen the inflation.

Abad also admonished the authorities to enforce stricter price control for food, electricity and water.

“There must be a price control in so far as these are concerned because it will cause a domino effect in pushing the prices of basic commodities up,” Abad said during the public hearing conducted by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-National Capital Region (RTWPB-NCR) yesterday.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) agreed with Abad’s proposal, which it said could be achieved by “cleaning up” the cartels in rice, petroleum and energy industries.

“If you lower the price of electricity, the price of all goods and services and the daily cost of living of ordinary consumers will go down,” TUCP Vice President Vice President Louie Corral pointed out. They also expressed its reservations on the wage setting reforms proposed by Abad saying that the application of the minimum wage for non-unionized workers only and productivity-based wage order.

Meanwhile, TUCP Assistant General Sec. and Spokesman Vicente Camilon said while excluding unionized workers from minimum wage rates maybe ideal, it is currently unrealistic.

He pointed out that it will barely reduce the number of workers, who are dependent on minimum wage since there are very few employees, who are members of a union due to the prevalence of contractualization.

Camilon also doubted the effective implementation of a productivity-based scheme based on 2016 World Bank report, he noted despite the average annual 3.5 percent growth in labor productivity from 2004 to 2014, there was zero growth in real wages of workers.

The proposal may also need legislative reforms since the regional wage boards are only mandated by Republic Act 6727 or the Wage Rationalization Act to issue minimum wage rate hikes and not a productivity-based wage order.

The regional wage boards are limited to providing guidelines for a productivity-based scheme which companies could voluntary implement.

RTWPB-NCR Chair Ana. Dione said they will have a hard-time deciding on a new wage order due to numerous points raised by their stakeholders.

“We will come out with our decision within the year, but as to the what week or day, we still can’t say. We come out with it as soon as possible,” Dione said.

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