The government is eyeing to double the fuel subsidy for public utility vehicles from P2.5 billion to P5 billion to expand the coverage period for another month amid the spiraling oil prices aggravated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Karl Chua, in his report to President Rodrigo Duterte Monday, said this is part of a 14-point plan crafted by the economic cluster of the Cabinet to cushion the impact of the Ukraine crisis.
The fuel vouchers, worth P6,500 each, will cover 377,000 qualified PUV drivers who are operating jeepneys, UV express, taxis, tricycles, and other full-time ride-hailing and delivery services nationwide for a total of P2,453,379,500 for March.
Once doubled, Chua said a second tranche can be released in April.
The government will also continue working with private firms on the promotional discount of oil companies from P1 to P4 per liter.
It will also provide additional fuel vouchers for agricultural producers with an increased budget of P1.1 billion from P500 million, Chua added.
He cited the need to increase the country’s oil buffer stock from the current 30 to 45 days as well as the buffer stock for liquefied petroleum gas from 7 days to 15 days, but said these would need a law to implement.
Economic managers also proposed to shift the entire country to Alert Level 1 and to open schools for face-to-face classes “to increase our domestic economy and offset the external risks,” Chua said.
“While we cannot prevent the risk from coming from the global perspective, we can strengthen our domestic economy to provide the people with more jobs and opportunities,” he said.
Other items in the 14-point plan are as follows:
Expanding the supply of coal and reducing price by reducing the most favored nation or MFN tariff rate from 7 percent to zero temporarily until December 2022. “The effect people will feel is the pass through of lower power charges,” Chua said.
Allow foreign ownership in micro-grid, solar, wind, and tidal energy, but this will require a revision of the implementing rules and regulation.
Implement vigorously the Plant, Plant, Plant program Part 2, provide targeted fertilizer vouchers to farmers, and discuss with bilateral partners on possible additional supply of fertilizers.
The Department of Agriculture will closely monitor rice inflation and the National Food Authority will closely monitor the buffer stock. The Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines will provide concessional loans or funding for working capital, particularly in the procurement of post-harvest facilities and warehouses. “Should the local production not be enough, we will temporarily import to keep prices low and make sure we have adequate rice for all Filipinos. While waiting for the harvest, we may need more import and we propose to expand supply and reduce price by extending the 35 percent tariff rate until December 2022,” Chua said.
Expand the supply of corn and reduce the price by lowering the most favored nation tariff rate to five percent in quota and 15 percent out quota.
To ensure a lower price of pork and adequate supply, economic managers proposed extending the lower tariff rate of 15 percent in quota and 25 percent out quota with a Minimum Access Volume of 200,000 metric ton until December 2022.
Issue a Certificate for the Necessity to Import small pelagic fish from the ocean, such as galunggong, from the second quarter to the fourth quarter.
Address a court temporary restraining order that prevents the government from pursuing sugar importation. “The economic team has proposed that we allow direct importation by the industrial users, such as food manufacturers and beverage manufacturers on a 1:1 ratio. So, they will buy 50 percent from the domestic to help our farmers and import the extra so that we can help our food producers also,” Chua said.
Expand the sources of wheat to ensure adequate bread supply at affordable prices.