Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday reiterated his call for a two-pronged approach to address the country’s record-high inflation: suspending excise taxes on fuel and imposing a five-percent savings rate across all government agencies to make up for the resulting revenue shortfall.
“Number one talaga dyan is that we have to suspend y’ung excise tax on fuel. Di ba kaya ayaw natin tanggalin y’ung excise tax, kasi kailangan natin y’ung pondo. But if you have five-percent savings, then the government will spend five percent less anyway,” Cayetano said in a media interview on April 11, 2022.
The lawmaker said the focus right now should be on mitigating rising fuel prices to contain potential runaway inflation, which hit a six-month high of four percent in March.
He also said the problem is that the rising price of fuel causes a domino effect on all other commodities.
“Y’ung isang domino kapag bumagsak, sunod-sunod na. So hindi pwedeng sa gitna mo ihihinto kasi marami nang tumumba,” he said.
“Y’ung unang domino talaga e y’ung presyo ng gasolina. So we have to, for me, i-arrest mo muna ‘yan para hindi tumaas lahat,” he added.
To enable the government to withstand the loss of revenue from suspending fuel excise taxes, Cayetano called for the imposition of a mandatory savings rate of five percent across all state agencies – a move he said will free up P250 billion out of the P5.04-trillion national budget for 2022.
Cayetano explained that any attempt to address inflation through the suspension of taxes would provide insufficient relief to vulnerable sectors such as transportation and agriculture without some form of financial assistance.
“If it has to be a choice, I’d still get 5-percent saving, and kahit hindi P10,000 y’ung ayuda, kahit less… Pero I’d make sure hindi tumataas y’ung bilihin,” the former Speaker said.
“Doble po ang tama sa katulad po ng tricycle driver, taxi driver, na mataas ang bilihin, hindi lang ng gasolina, kasi lumiit na ang kita nila dahil sa taas ng gasolina, nagmahal pa ang bilihin, tapos wala pa silang ayuda,” he added.
Cayetano and his allies in Congress filed House Bill No. 10832 or the Mandatory Savings Bill on March 31, 2022 which proposes a five percent mandatory savings to generate a projected amount of P250 billion “to fund assistance to our countrymen who are in dire need to recover from the adverse effects of the present pandemic.”
He had also previously urged Congress to adopt the 10K Ayuda Bill which would require the government to provide a minimum cash grant of P10,000 to every Filipino family to help them recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The former Speaker noted that Thailand implemented price controls on food and medicines in the 1980s amid runaway inflation partly caused by the effects of the 1979 global energy crisis, as well as other domestic factors.
“Kapag ang pagkain at gamot ay mura, ang tao kahit papaano nakaka-survive. Pero kapag ang pagkain at gamot ay mahal, eh lahat na pinoproblema nila,” Cayetano said, adding that the country can adopt a similar strategy to aid the most vulnerable Filipino families.