Press Release
March 8, 2022


Senator Imee Marcos said cash for welfare aid needs to be increased for local governments soon, as fuel prices continued to spiral upward.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, said existing fuel subsidies and calamity funds may not last long, with no end in sight to the Russia-Ukraine war and the recent U.S. threat to impose an embargo on Russian oil exports.

"Runaway oil prices are setting us back to Day One of the Covid-19 pandemic. We're again in a mad scramble to identify other sources of subsidies and 'ayuda,' " Marcos said.

Oil prices on Monday hit their highest this year at $139 per barrel, with forecasts by U.S. analysts and even Russia's deputy prime minister painting a grimmer picture of $150 to over $200 per barrel.

Marcos said some Php18 billion in programs earmarked in the Php20-billion Calamity Fund can still be "re-prioritized" in favor of increasing fuel subsidies and 'ayuda.'

"This can be done more quickly than suspending fuel excise taxes, which will have to go through a long legislative process," Marcos said.

The government's economic managers have so far rejected the call for tax suspensions and insisted that the loss of about Php131 billion in revenue collections will delay national economic recovery.

The senator cautioned, however, that the temptation to misuse additional welfare aid will be high, as election campaigns for local government posts begin on March 25.

"What is essential now is for the government to make a comprehensive analysis, reconcile its conflicting statements, and propose the best solutions. The people are still waiting for urgent action," Marcos said.

Marcos added that lawmakers are ready to forego the remainder of their recess if President Duterte calls for a special session of Congress to amend or create new laws amid the global oil crisis.

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