MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said on Wednesday, March 9, 2022, that funds for fuel subsidies for the transportation and agriculture sectors will be released within the week or early next week.
DBM officer-in-charge Undersecretary Tina Rose Canda said in a Laging Handa public briefing, “Minamadali na namin ang pag-release nung pondo. In fact, we expect na within this week…at the latest early next week ang pagre-release nito.”
(We are in a hurry to release the funds. In fact, we expect its release within this week … at the latest early next week.)
In its 2022 budget, the National Government has set aside P2.5 billion for the Transportation Fuel Subsidy Program and P500 million for farmers and fisherfolk.
The funds will be released if the price of Dubai crude oil averages or exceeds $80 per barrel for three months in a row.
President Rodrigo Duterte approved the Department of Energy’s (DOE) recommendation last week to implement the P2.5 billion “Pantawid Pasada” program for public utility vehicle drivers and the P500 million fuel discount program for farmers and fisherfolk amid the ongoing oil price hike caused by the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
Oil prices have risen above $100 per barrel in recent weeks, following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order to launch a military attack on Ukraine.
The DBM included the month of December to comply with the conditions and Duterte’s order.
“Ang DOE na ang nag-decide na isama sa computation ‘yung December, so December, January, February. Kasi kung halimbawa hintayin yung three months, dapat [sa] Abril pa ‘yun mare-release,” Canda said.
(The DOE decided to include December in the computation, so December, January, February. Because if, for example, you wait for three months, it should be released [in] April.)
During Duterte’s Talk to the People Address on Monday, March 7, 2022, National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Director General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua proposed doubling the fuel subsidy for public utility vehicles and increasing the agriculture sector subsidy to P1.1 billion to mitigate the impact of rising oil prices on the people.
He stated that the first tranche of subsidies will be distributed in March, followed by the second tranche in April.
Canda agreed with Neda Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon that the funds for the additional fuel subsidy could come from surplus tax revenue.
She stated that surplus tax collections would be available by the end of March.