Press Release
March 17, 2008



Senator Mar Roxas said the executive must immediately take stock of the situation of continued oil price hikes to record levels and an impending food crisis.

He warned against any sense of complacency in the situation, as the price of oil is not seen to decrease after recently reaching $111 per barrel in the world market. This has led local fuel companies to hike pump prices by a total of P1.50 in just three weeks, and to warn of a hike of P2 to P3 more this summer.

"On top of this, we're looking at shortages and increased prices of rice, corn, flour and even pork and chicken due to increased demand worldwide," Roxas, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce, said.

"The pressure is on the administration to act swiftly. The stability of prices of basic goods is needed for both our economic and political stability. Kailangan ngayon ng agad na ginhawa sa bulsa ng mga mamimili," he added.

The Liberal Party President said now is the time to suspend the 12% value-added tax (VAT) on oil and fuel products and to exempt all minimum wage earners from paying individual income taxes. He noted that the government has rejected the former, while it had promised the latter, but has yet to deliver on the same.

As an immediate solution to help the ailing purchasing power of consumers, the executive could again consider his proposal to suspend the VAT on oil, to lessen the pressure on the transport and food sectors who already have inflation to deal with.

"We need concrete actions to deal with the situation of high oil prices, and all the government has done so far was to lower oil tariffs, na inakyat pa ulit. Patuloy pa rin tumaas ang presyo ng gasolina at wala pa ring ginhawa ang ating mga taumbayan," Roxas lamented.

"Ang pagbawas ng taripa sa bigas at mais ay isang magandang simula, pero kulang ito, dahil nakikita natin na talagang masikip na ang suplay ng bigas at mais sa mundo. Hindi natin sigurado kung may mabibili pa tayo sa labas ngayon," he added.

"There is another summit to tackle the food crisis, but we already know the diagnosis: shortage of goods, and non-implementation of measures to address this. Oras na para ipatupad ang mga kongkretong solusyon," he added.

The proposed suspension of VAT on oil has been filed as Senate Bill No. 1962 and is now awaiting House action before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means can put the bill out in plenary. In the House, Liberal Party Secretary-General and Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio "Jun" Abaya has filed his counterpart bill, House Bill No. 3390.

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