Philippines: Duterte cool to TRAIN suspension

  • Congressmen are pushing for the suspension of the TRAIN law, which they blame for the increased prices of goods and services.
  • But President Duterte, while acknowledging the impact on inflation of TRAIN, said on 30 May 18 that he likely would not suspend it as it would affect the national coffers, though he recognises TRAIN as one of the causes recent inflation.
  • Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay is drafting a joint House of Representatives-Senate resolution suspending TRAIN, while Rep. Michael Romero of party-list group 1-Pacman filed Resolution 1919 on 30 May 18.
  • The Romero resolution urges President Duterte to suspend the collection of taxes on diesel, gasoline and other oil products from Jun-Aug 18 to arrest the rise in consumer prices.
  • Lagman said that the executive branch could not temporarily halt the enforcement of the TRAIN law even if it wants to without Congress passing another law, which is why he wishes to introduce a joint resolution, hoping to “gain bipartisan support among lawmakers”.
  • In his resolution, Romero said his three-month suspension proposal aims “to ease inflation pressures, slow down the decline in the purchasing power of the peso and preserve the country’s economic gains.”
  • He urged concerned House committees to study where additional funds could be raised if TRAIN were suspended as well as the grant of additional financial assistance to the most adversely affected sectors and the approval of legislation that would expand the powers of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to control inflation.
  • With rising fuel prices putting greater pressure on inflation, the Department of Energy (DOE) is eyeing the establishment of a strategic petroleum reserve (SPR) with stocks sourced from Russia and other non-OPEC countries.

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