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The Palace will be the next administration to make a decision on whether or not to suspend the gasoline tax.

MANILA – Malacanang will defer to President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s administration on whether or not to suspend the excise duty on oil products to address the rising cost of fuel.

“Hahayaan natin sa susunod na administrasyon ang desisyon tungkol sa panawagang ito,” acting presidential spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a Palace press briefing Tuesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte, according to Andanar, has not changed his mind about rejecting requests to suspend the fuel excise tax.

“Hindi naman po nagbabago ang Pangulo’s posisyon noong Marso sa ngayon (The President’s position has not changed since March),” he remarked.

Instead, in March, Duterte approved the Department of Finance’s suggestion to provide direct assistance to the most vulnerable sectors, authorizing PHP33 billion for unconditional cash transfers to needy families.

Qualified households would get PHP200 per month in monetary assistance, for a total of PHP2,400.

Andanar cited Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III as saying that the excise tax on oil products must be kept because the money has been set aside for teacher wages, the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, and other obligations.

Dominguez has previously warned that suspending fuel excise duties would require the government to borrow money, resulting in revenue losses of PHP105.9 billion in 2022, or around 0.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product this year.

Marcos’ administration is likewise opposed to any immediate suspension of excise charges on gasoline items.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source, Governor and Finance Chief-designate Benjamin Diokno of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas warned that reducing fuel taxes would be a “poor step” at this time.

Apart from suspending the excise tax on oil products, Marcos believes there are other options for addressing growing fuel expenses.

He did say, though, that if a research shows that reducing excise taxes on gasoline items is advantageous, he could reconsider.

The government has continued to grant funds to the transportation sector to this day.

According to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, almost 200,000 public utility vehicle drivers and operators have already received cash assistance.

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