Asserting that the repeal of the controversial oil deregulation law is a long and complicated process, Liberal Party’s top presidential contender and incumbent Sen. Mar Roxas over the weekend instead proposed Senate Bill No. 1962 suspending the 12-percent Value-Added Tax (VAT) imposed on oil to cushion impact of sharp increases in the prices of petroleum products worldwide.
BY GERRY ALBERT CORPUZ
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 50, January 27-February 2, 2008
UP DILIMAN, QUEZON CITY – Asserting that the repeal of the controversial oil deregulation law is a long and complicated process, Liberal Party’s top presidential contender and incumbent Sen. Mar Roxas over the weekend instead proposed Senate Bill No. 1962 suspending the 12-percent Value-Added Tax (VAT) imposed on oil to cushion impact of sharp increases in the prices of petroleum products worldwide.
The senator and LP President made the pitch for his pet bill on VAT on oil at the forum billed People’s Response To Rising Oil Prices sponsored by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) and the People’s Unity Against Oil Price Hikes.
Speaking before a jampacked crowd of sectoral and multisectoral leaders, Roxas admitted that as of now, the legislative measure suspending the VAT on oil is the only concrete measure he could offer to the Filipino people and gravely affected sectors at this point in time to offset the economic impact of rising prices of oil products in the world market.
“Senator Roxas is non-committal,” according to one of the leaders who was asked by Bulatlat to give his comment on Roxas statement. “More appropriately speaking, he is not supporting the politically correct position of mass organizations to scrap permanently the 12-percent VAT on oil, the repeal of the Oil Deregulation Law and the nationalization of oil industry.”
However, the activist leader – who talked on the condition of anonymity –said the six-month suspension of VAT on oil could still provide some economic relief specially to direct consumers of oil like jeepney drivers, liquefied petroleum gas users and small fisherfolk all over the country.
“But it is still not a permanent solution,” the militant leader added. “It is only good for the mid-year episode of 2008. After six months, what’s next?”
Roxas, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means said the purpose of SB 1762 is to provide immediate relief to millions of Filipinos severely affected by the seemingly unstoppable increases in the prices of oil products in the world market.
The 2010 presidentiable said after six months, the Senate and the affected sectors could start talking about lasting solutions to address the surging of prices of petroleum products and what to do to existing cartel in the oil industry.
The senator rebuked Malacañang economic managers’ projection of a “doomsday scenario” that would supposedly take place once SB 1762 is passed by Congress, stressing that the P30 billion ($7.35 million at the Jan. 25 exchange rate of $1:P40.80) that would be slashed from the government’s tax collections merely represent 0.4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and as such would not have a strong impact on the government.
Roxas also said the government has no credibility in spending people’s taxes and it would be better if the P30-billion VAT on oil would be spent by the people and consumers, rather than spent by the Arroyo presidency.