By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Sonny Angara said today the agencies in charge of distributing fuel subsidies to the transport, agriculture and fisheries sectors should be ready to implement the program already.
Under the 2022 General Appropriations Act, Angara said there is a total of P8 billion for the purpose of providing fuel subsidies to the members of the transport, agriculture and fisheries sectors.
As the chairman of the Committee on Finance, Angara included a P2.5 billion in the GAA for financial assistance or fuel vouchers for qualified public utility vehicles (PUV), taxi, tricycle, and full-time ride-hailing and delivery services drivers.
Angara also included another P500 million for the grant of fuel discounts to farmers and fisherfolk, who are just as affected by the continuous hike in oil prices.
“The trigger for the release of the fuel subsidies is when the average price of Dubai crude oil reaches or exceeds $80 per barrel for three months. The price is now at over $100/barrel so the release of the subsidies should be forthcoming,” Angara said.
On top of the P3 billion total for the transport, agriculture and fisheries sectors, Angara said there is also another P5 billion lodged under the unprogrammed appropriations also for fuel subsidies.
This means that Congress has given the authority to the Executive branch to provide up to P5 billion for fuel subsidies once funding for this becomes available.
Angara explained that the funds could come from government borrowings or from excess revenue collections.
“We have seen in the past few years that funds placed under unprogrammed appropriations have consistently been released especially if the specified purposes are fully backed by the Executive,” Angara said.
The Cabinet’s Economic Development Cluster has recommended among other things the “increase” in the fuel subsidy program of the government from P2.5 billion to P5 billion.
Angara said the agencies concerned with the distribution of the fuel subsidies such as the Department of Transportation and Department of Agriculture should ensure that they have the list of recipients ready and that they implement the program smoothly and quickly.
“They have distributed cash aid and similar subsidies in the past so coming up with the guidelines for the current program should not be difficult,” Angara said.
“Matindi na ang naging epekto ng pagtaas ng presyo ng langis sa buhay ng mga tsuper, magsasaka at mangingisda. Nabawasan ang kinikita nila kada araw dahil sa dagdag na gastos sa langis,” Angara added.
Angara said the higher cost of transporting fresh produce and fish to the markets will also be felt by consumers because the hike in the cost of fuel will be reflected in the prices of these goods as a pass-on expense. (AI/MTVN)