Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas III said that suspending the Value-Added Tax on oil products will give relief to the poor at the forum “People’s Response to the Rising Oil Prices,” Jan. 26, at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
BY EMILY VITAL
Vol. VII, No. 50, January 27-February 2, 2008
Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas III said that suspending the Value-Added Tax (VAT) on oil products will give relief to the poor at the forum “People’s Response to the Rising Oil Prices,” Jan. 26, at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
Organized by the People’s Unity against Oil Price Hikes and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), the forum was attended by more than a hundred leaders from various sectoral organizations.
Roxas is the author of Senate Bill No. 1962 which seeks to suspend the 12-percent VAT on petroleum products for six months.
Roxas said, “Ang panahon ngayon ay di pangkaraniwan. Nasa emergency room si Juan dela Cruz…Bigyan natin ng relief” (These days are not normal. Juan dela Cruz is at the emergency room… Let us give him some relief.)
Roxas explained that when VAT was imposed on oil products in 2005 to alleviate the fiscal crisis, the price of oil then was only $30 per barrel. He argued, “Kabaligtaran na ang sitwasyon ngayon. Sinasabi ng gobyerno na nagtagumpay na sila laban sa fiscal crisis subalit ngayon, pumapatak sa $90-$100 ang langis per barrel…” (Today’s situation is the opposite. The government says it has weathered the fiscal crisis but the price of oil has gone up to $90 to $100 per barrel…)
He further said, “Ang krisis ngayon na kay Juan dela Cruz, hindi sa gobyerno…Ibalik muna ng gobyerno kay Juan dela Cruz tutal sa kanya naman iyon nanggaling” (The crisis is shouldered by Juan dela Cruz, not by the government…For the meantime, the government should give it back to Juan dela Cruz and besides, the money comes from him.)
Roxas debunked the World Bank’s claim that only the rich will benefit from any decrease in oil prices. He said that the transport component of the expenses of the poor is greater than the wealthy. “Ang P20 para sa tricycle driver o mangingisda ay malaking bahagdan na ng kanyang income” he said. (The P20 for a tricycle driver or fisherman is already a big proportion of his income.)
Roxas also said that there will the lifting of VAT on oil will have no negative impact on the economy. “Gagastusin din ang pera sa ibang pangangailangan…Kakalat sa buong ekonomiya” (The money will still be spent for other needs…will enhance economic activities.)
He revealed that the P30-billion potential revenue loss from the suspension of VAT is less than one percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The senator also pointed out that the government’s fiscal credibility is very low. “Kung gagastusin lang sa [kontratang gaya ng] ZTE, sayang lang ang VAT na ibinabayad ng mamamayan” (If the public funds will only be spent for contracts like the ZTE, the collection from VAT would have been wasted.)
Meanwhile, Amado Gat Inciong, former labor undersecretary, commented that the Arroyo government is more concerned with what the international lending institutions have to say than with the Filipino people’s sentiments. Inciong said that the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank disapprove of the removal of VAT as this will affect the capacity of the Arroyo government to pay for foreign debt. To this, Roxas said, “‘Sakto.” (Exactly). (Bulatlat.com)