Sunday, 18 March 2012 17:11
Malacañang remained firm yesterday that the 12 percent value added tax (VAT) on oil would stay, but assured the public that some provisions of the Oil Deregulation Law were being reviewed and alternatives like battery-run buses were being promoted.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said economic managers would have to study first the implications of reducing the VAT on fuel to help lower its prices.
Valte reiterated that funds from VAT on oil were being used to help vulnerable sectors through social programs. She said it would be better to use funds for targeted sectors.
“We have been taking several steps to ensure that we don’t just have short-term solutions but we have long-term solutions to address their concerns,” Valte said.
“As we have discussed with the transport groups, there are some parts of the (Oil) Deregulation Law that need to be examined, which are already being studied by the Department of Energy,” Valte said.
During a visit to Zamboanga City last Thursday, Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II had said the Aquino administration had no plans of supporting calls to cut the VAT on petroleum and other oil products.
Roxas said while the proposal to reduce the VAT is being studied by the government, it will most likely not support the move, citing the taxes generated by the VAT which are being used to render services to the public.
Roxas instead called on the proponents of VAT reduction to identify what projects of the government being supported by the VAT they want to be discontinued.
“It’s easy to say ‘stop collecting taxes’ but this would mean that a particular government service will be affected,” he said.
Roxas said it is up to the legislative branch to work on the reduction of the VAT “but I know the government will oppose it.”
Meanwhile, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. yesterday turned on the ignition of a new breed of commuter bus that was designed to run on batteries.
This is meant to produce no greenhouse gas and is a boon in the government’s efforts to stop climate change.
The introduction of the battery-powered bus, called eBus, was made possible through the program dubbed “Victory Against Climate Change,” a partnership between the Climate Change Commission and Victory Liner, one of the leading transportation operators in the country.
President Aquino is the commission’s chairman.
Under Republic Act 9729, also known as the Climate Change Act of 2009, the commission is mandated to promote and provide technical support to local research and development programs that will help address climate change.
“We are looking at the eBus as one of the vehicles that will carry government efforts to address the causes of climate change. The use of gasoline or diesel in our vehicles has been identified by science as one of the causes of climate change as it produces carbon dioxide, one of the major GHG in our atmosphere,” Ochoa said.
Secretary Mary Ann Lucille Sering, commission vice chair, said the use of battery-powered vehicles was one of the strategies under the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) to help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG).
She also said the GHG inventory of the Philippines revealed that the transportation sector was the highest emitter of GHG.
“You need not be an expert to recognize the problem of pollution in the cities, particularly in Metro Manila. Just look at our streets and you will see commuter vehicles belching black smoke. That is not only bad for our climate but also for our health,” she said.
Sering cited the need to engage the private sector more in the effort to fight climate change and expressed hope that other transportation companies would adopt the new technology.
The bus runs on 400V Winston rare-earth yttrium lithium-ion battery with a maximum speed of 90 kilometers per hour. The bus has 26 seats but can carry a total of 52 passengers. - By Aurea Calica and Roel Pareno (Philstar News Service, www.philstar.com)
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