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Selective oil price hike pushed in Congress
Maila Ager, (Updated 07:11am (Mla time) 12 Aug 2004)

PHILIPPINES: LEGISLATION allowing a selective oil price increase, targeted at affluent consumers, is being prepared at the House of Representatives.

House ways and means committee chair Representative Herminio Teves (Davao City) said on Wednesday that he was drafting measures that sought to raise the price of premium gasoline being charged to "rich and affluent" car owners from 25 pesos per liter to 32 pesos.

"I want it (price of premium gasoline) to be at par in Los Angeles, Tokyo and Hong Kong. In the Philippines, the cost of premium gas is 25 pesos while other countries, it is 32 pesos per liter," Teves told INQ7. Net

Rich consumers, he said, could shoulder such an increase in petroleum products.

"The rich can pay. The increase would only be a small portion of their wealth," he said.

Teves expects at least P15 billion annual revenue from the said proposal.

Albay representative Joey Salceda had earlier floated a 2-peso tax hike on petroleum products but it received strong criticisms and opposition from various sectors of the society.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño said the 2-peso per liter tax hike was "the most regressive of the Arroyo administration's eight revenue measures."

"It is not true that only the rich would be hit by hiking specific taxes on petroleum products because practically all industries are dependent on it. Workers in the transport sector will be directly affected," Casiño said in a statement.

But on Tuesday’s meeting of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac), the tax on fuel was still included in the four priority legislations of Congress.

The three others were the general tax amnesty, sin taxes, and the fiscal incentives for companies within the economic zone area.

Despite this, the group called Alliance of Legislators Against Regressive Taxes (Alert) in the House of Representatives continued its campaign against the imposition of new taxes.

Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo said the number of signatories to House Resolution 91, which seeks the deferment of deliberations of any new tax measure, had already reached over 70 or a third of the House membership.

Casino said six more congressmen added their signatures to the resolution Tuesday night.

They were pro-administration Representatives Arthur Defensor (Iloilo), Del de Guzman (Marikina), Benhur Abalos (Mandaluyong), Genaro Alvarez (Negros Occidental) and Sunny Magdamba of Apec.

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