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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is allotting P2.5 billion ($49 million) in fuel subsidies for public transport drivers, with oil prices surging after Russia attacked Ukraine.
The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) on Thursday, February 24, said the amount would be used for the Department of Transportation’s fuel subsidy program, where 377,000 drivers will be given vouchers.
It is on top of the Department of Agriculture’s P500-million budget for affected farmers and fisherfolk.
“Given recent developments, the government remains ready to provide targeted relief assistance and support to address the impact of the oil price hike for affected sectors, especially public utility vehicle drivers, farmers, and fisherfolk,” the DBCC said.
Before Russia’s attack on Ukraine, fuel prices in the Philippines had increased for eight consecutive weeks.
Year-to-date adjustments stand at a total net increase of P8.75 per liter for gasoline, P10.85 per liter for diesel, and P9.55 per liter for kerosene.
As of February 17, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas projected Dubai crude would average at $83.3 per barrel. It is then expected to decelerate to $79 by the end of 2022 based on the latest oil futures.
Brent crude has already reached a seven-year high of $102.48 a barrel.
Economists warned that any further escalation in Ukraine may cause prices of goods in the Philippines to rise to levels last seen in 2018.
That year, inflation jumped to as high as 6.7%, while the purchasing power of Filipinos decreased as the peso weakened by 9%.