Expect no fuel tax suspension under Marcos admin; Diokno to push for 'efficient, timely' aid

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 7) — The administration of president-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is not looking at suspending excise taxes on fuel products any time soon, but the incoming finance chief acknowledged lapses in the implementation of assistance to drivers who have been bearing the brunt of higher oil prices.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor and finance chief-designate Benjamin Diokno said despite the new round of pump price hikes effective June 7, it would be unwise to cut taxes on fuel.

"When you cut taxes on fuel, it will benefit everybody, the rich, the poor, the middle income," Diokno said. "And when there is a need to put it back, restore the cut because things have normalized, it's very difficult to push such measures before Congress."

"I think it’s a wrong move to cut taxes at this time," he maintained.

Various companies have imposed another ₱2.70 increase per liter for gasoline, ₱6.55 per liter for diesel, and ₱5.45 for kerosene effective June 7.

The Department of Energy said net price increases since the start of the year for gasoline, diesel and kerosene stood at ₱23.85, ₱30.30 and ₱27.65 per liter, respectively, as of May 31.

READ: Fuel firms announce big-time price hike

Diokno stressed that a targeted assistance to jeepney drivers, farmers, and fisherfolk would be more efficient than cutting taxes, and the government "will continue that approach."

Asked for his reaction on the mounting complaints from public utility drivers who have not yet received the promised ₱6,500 fuel subsidy by the government, Diokno acknowledged that it's a "problem of implementation."

"To me, it's a problem of implementation. We'll make sure implementation will be efficient and will be timely," he said.

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Executive Director Kristina Cassion said on Tuesday that so far, some 200,809 PUV drivers and operators have already received the cash aid, out of over 264,000 targeted beneficiaries.

Cash aid to 20,263 delivery riders out of the 27,777 listed by the Department of Trade and Industry has also been disbursed, and they will start next week the disbursement of aid for tricycle drivers after receiving the list of beneficiaries from the Interior Department.

"On the second tranche, we are looking at distributing it by July," Cassion said.

The government also previously committed to give some farmers and fisherfolk a maximum of ₱3,000 worth of fuel discount per individual to alleviate rising prices.

In a separate briefing, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the Duterte administration is not changing its stance on the non-suspension of fuel excise tax, because whatever will be collected has already been budgeted to certain government programs. He added that the decision to lift its imposition will be up to the next administration.

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos contributed to this report.