Press Release
March 29, 2008


Senator Mar Roxas called on the Arroyo administration to back pending bills in the Senate and House of Representatives for a temporary suspension of the 12% VAT (value-added tax) on oil in view of nearly weekly upward adjustments in the price of oil.

Roxas, chair of the Senate trade and commerce committee, said the people's purchasing power continues to be eroded by calibrated increases in the pump prices of gasoline, diesel and kerosene.

The latest fuel price adjustments brought the prices of premium unleaded gasoline to between P43.87 and P48.15 a liter, of diesel to between P36.41 and P40.50 a liter and kerosene to between P40.80 and P46.30 a liter.

"Kahit pa-tingi-tingi ang pagtaas ng presyo ng langis, masakit ito sa bulsa ng mga mamamayan pati na sa mga namamasada ng pampublikong sasakyan. Bibilis ang pagsulong ng batas para sa suspensyon ng VAT sa mga produktong petrolyo kung ito ay susuportahan ng administrasyon (Even if oil prices are increased in incremental amounts, the net effect is still painful to consumers and the transport sector. The passage of measures to suspend the VAT on oil will be assured once the administration starts backing the proposal)," Roxas said.

The senator said all available options to help the people cope with rising prices must be considered at this stage, to prevent civil and political unrest.

"Pressure is building up in our society as more households struggle to make ends meet given the soaring prices and stagnant incomes. A temporary suspension of the VAT on oil will provide enormous relief to the people," Roxas pointed out.

Senator Roxas is the author of Senate Bill No. 1962 which calls for a six-month suspension of the 12% on oil in view of the unusually high prices of oil in the world market. The President's economic team led by Finance Secretary Gary Teves, however, disagreed with the proposal, saying it would wreak havoc on the government's goal of a balanced budget.

"The government is forced to forego this facade of a balanced budget given its high spending on imported rice. I urge the President's economic managers to agree to the suspension of the 12% VAT on a single commodity, which is oil," Roxas said.

The Liberal Party president said the administration can even open up discussions on whether the 12% VAT on oil should be lowered instead of a complete suspension.

"In a previous hearing of my committee, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile said that he was open to a lowering of the VAT on oil given the soaring prices in the world market. We need the same kind of flexibility and openness on the part of the President and her economic team," Roxas added.

The senator also called on the Department of Finance to provide the people with a list of government assets due for privatization.

"To keep our fiscal targets on course, the finance department is resorting to privatization of assets without the public's knowledge. These assets are owned by the people and they have a right to be duly informed and consulted about the government's current asset privatization drive," Roxas stressed.

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