Gov't to give P5,000 fuel subsidy per jeepney driver in 2018

MANILA, Philippines – Each public utility jeepney (PUJ) driver will receive P5,000 as fuel subsidy in 2018 to help mitigate the effects of the tax reform law.

On Wednesday, July 11, secretaries of the budget, transportation, and energy departments as well as the heads of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) signed a joint memorandum circular (JMC) on the fuel subsidy program, also known as Pantawid Pasada.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said around 180,000 jeepney drivers would benefit from the program, within the first two years of the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law. (READ: EXPLAINER: How the tax reform law affects Filipino consumers)

"When the TRAIN law was being crafted, the Pantawid Pasada program [was] identified as one complementary mitigating measure," Diokno said.

"On our part in DBM (Department of Budget and Management), we will ensure that all necessary funding – subject to proper documentation – will be immediately released," he added.

P977 million was allocated for the remaining 6 months of 2018, under the unprogrammed appropriations of this year's national budget.

For 2019, Diokno said some P3.86 billion would be allocated, increasing the subsidy per jeepney driver to P20,515 per year.

Jeepney drivers will receive a debit card from Landbank, which will be loaded with the fuel subsidy. Distribution of the cards will begin on Thursday, July 12.

The previous administration first implemented the Pantawid Pasada program with an allocation of P300 million. The Commission on Audit (COA), however, flagged irregularities in the rollout of the program.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade gave assurances that there would be no issues this time around, with the help of Landbank.

PANTAWID PASADA. Government officials sign a joint memorandum circular on the fuel subsidy for jeepney drivers on July 11, 2018.

Photo from the Department of Energy

Fare hike?

Asked whether a jeepney fare hike is needed, Diokno said he thinks otherwise.

"Sa tingin ko hindi na kailangan dahil pababa ang presyo ng bilihin…. So mag-stabilize na rin presyo ng bilihin," he said.

(I think there is no need [for a fare hike] because the prices of goods will be going down. The prices of goods will eventually stabilize.)

Last July 4, the LTFRB approved a provisional fare increase of P1 for the first 4 kilometers for PUJs in Metro Manila, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon.

Diokno clarified that the fuel subsidy will only cover the excise tax of P2.50 per liter on diesel for 2018 – which will further go up to P4.50 in 2019.

Economic managers earlier said the government expects inflation to taper off in the second half of 2018. The inflation rate for the entire year, however, could exceed the initial forecast of 2% to 4%. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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