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Roxas: ‘Cut VAT, return excess collections to people’

Posted by Abi Kwok on August 18, 2008

Piston seeks P38/L diesel, P43-44/L gasoline

By Abigail Kwok
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 19:30:00 08/18/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II on Monday urged the government to either cut down or put a limit to its value added tax (VAT) collections and to return excess collections to the people.

The leftist Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide, United Organizations of Drivers and Operators Nationwide (Piston) also challenged government to show its “sincerity” by bringing down diesel prices to P38 per liter and gasoline to P43-44 a liter.

“Ang mga taong bayan ang mga tunay na naghihirap dahil sa pagtanggi ng pamahalaan sa ating panukalang mawala ang VAT sa produktong petrolyo. Tuloy pa rin ang ating panawagan na bigyang kagyat na ginhawa para sa ating mga tao [The citizens are the ones who really suffer because of the administration’s refusal to scrap the VAT on petroleum products. We continue calling that our people be given a little relief],” Roxas said at a transport forum organized by Piston.

He said the government based its VAT collections on when world fuel prices were $30 per barrel, which meant that VAT collections should have been just $3.60 per barrel. But based on current world oil prices, the government should be collecting as much as $12 per barrel of tax.

“Gusto ng gobyerno, sila ang kokolekta [ng VAT], sila rin ang gagastos. May problema ako diyan. Alam natin kasi na kapag ang gobyerno ang gumastos, may leakage. Hindi tayo nakakasiguro na yung pag-gagastusan ng gobyerno ay siyang parehas na pag-gastusan natin kapag ang pera ay nananatili sa bulsa natin [The government wants to collect the VAT and to spend it too. I have a problem with that. We know that when the government spends, there is leakage. We can’t be sure that what the government spends on is the same as what we would spend on had the money stayed in our pockets],” Roxas said.

Roxas urged the House of Representatives to immediately pass the bill that would remove VAT on oil and electricity and replace it with a specific tax of just P1 per liter of fuel.

“Mamamatay ang pasyente kung patuloy ang pagbigay ng parehong gamot kahit iba na ang sakit. Iba ang sitwasyon noon. Mabigat man ang 12% na VAT, ito ay sa $30 kada bariles na langis. Pero ngayon, na sobra sa $100 kada bariles kaya sobrang bigat na talaga at hindi na kakayanin ng mga tao [The patient will die if you continue giving him the same medicine for a different illness. The situation then was different. While the 12 percent VAT might have been onerous, it was imposed when oil was $30 a barrel. But now, when it is over $100 a barrel, it is too much for people to bear],” Roxas said.

At the forum, Piston secretary general George San Mateo said the recent oil price rollbacks were not enough to ease the difficulties of public transport drivers.

“Tinitipid nila kami sa pagbababa nila ng presyo. Sa totoo lang overpriced ang presyo ng langis kaya hindi kami naniniwala sa pagmamalasakit ng gobyerno [They are being miserly about bringing down oil prices. The truth is oil is overpriced, which is why we do not believe government cares],” he said.

“Malaki ang pananagutan ng gobyerno dito. Dapat tanggalin na ang Value Added Tax sa oil at ang Oil Deregulation Law [The government has a lot to answer for. The Value Added Tax on oil and the Oil Deregulation Law should be scrapped],” he said.

A study by the IBON Research Foundation revealed that a little more than P9 billion was used by the government for social welfare programs for the public transport sector, far less than its oil VAT collection of more than P80 billion this year.

Sonny Africa, IBON head, said removing the VAT on oil would benefit more than 900,000 public transport drivers and operators, and nine million families using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Africa added that the Oil Deregulation Law has only benefited the oil companies, with the top three — Shell Philippines, Petron Corporation, and Chevron — making P4.1 billion, P5.9 billion, and P2.1 billion in profits respectively.

***

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