July 23, 2018, 12:03 am
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Gov’t grants P4.8B fuel subsidy to jeeneys

The government is allocating a P4.8-billion fuel subsidy to  all public utility jeepneys (PUJ) to compensate for the increase in fuel prices due to the higher excise tax on fuel.

This was formalized in Joint Memorandum Circular No. 01, Series of 2018, or the Implementation of the Pantawid Pasada Program, signed by the Departments of Transportation, Energy, Budget and Management (DBM), and Finance as well as the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB)and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

The Pantawid Pasada Program aims to cover 179,852 units or 100 percent of legitimate PUJ units with existing LTFRB franchises within two years upon execution of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law (TRAIN).

As prescribed by the TRAIN Law, fuel vouchers shall be given to qualified franchise holders of PUJs that are identified and validated by the LTFRB.

Benjamin Diokno, budget secretary, said when the TRAIN Law was being crafted the Pantawid Pasada Program has been identified as one of the complementary social mitigating measures.

“The fuel subsidy will cover the fuel increase incurred by the jeepney drivers due to the higher excise tax on fuel. We’re hopeful that this program will provide relief to the transport sector as we continue to work towards our vision of real change, a better and more inclusive Philippines,” Diokno said.

In 2018, for the first tranche of the Pantawid Pasada Program, Diokno said DBM is allocating P977 million to provide a total of P5,000 subsidy for the six remaining months of the year to the intended beneficiaries, or approximately P833 per month.

He said for 2019, in the second tranche of the program, “we will allocate P3.86 billion. This will provide a total of P20,515 fuel subsidy to the beneficiaries, or approximately P1,710 monthly.”

“On our part in the Department of Budget and Management, we will ensure that all the necessary funding subject to proper documentation shall be immediately released to ensure the smooth and speedy implementation of this project,” Diokno added.

The LTFRB will release a debit card from Landbank to PUJ operator beneficiaries, with the name and plate number written to ensure that it will only be used for fuel purchase.

Martin Delgra, LTFRB chairman, said the agency will start distributing the debit cards today to 10,000 PUJs initially. It will be launching the distribution across the country in the next few weeks.

Alfonso Cusi, energy secretary, said the fuel subsidy is on top of the P1 per liter discount being given by oil companies to PUJs to help ease the impact of higher fuel cost on the drivers.

Arthur Tugade, transportation secretary, said the Pantawid Pasada Program is not new but the government increased the subsidy to P5,000 from P1,500 in the previous administration and will further increase this by next year.

DOE is responsible for coordinating with oil companies to ensure their acceptance of Pantawid Pasada Cards as mode of payment. 

DOE and  Landbank of the Philippines will be in charge of identifying areas with limited or no access to retail point of sale systems, where vouchers instead of cards will be honored.

“We called on our partners in the oil industry to grant fuel discounts to public utility vehicles, in addition to their CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs. This resulted in our MOAs (memoranda of agreement) with Petron, Shell and Phoenix Petroleum,” Cusi said. 

He added the DOE will be ready to extend any assistance that may be needed by its partner agencies to successfully implement the fuel subsidy program.

Last March, DOE signed agreements with several oil firms to include at least P1 discount per liter of liquid fuel for all public utility vehicles, aside from designated lanes and additional privileges for such vehicles.

Earlier, Leonido Pulido III, DOE assistant secretary, said a total of 1,104 retail stations are already offering discounts to public utility vehicles as of last year and this is expected to increase to about 2,000 stations this year. (with J. Macapagal).
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