NEDA exec cites importance of subsidy as oil prices soar

MANILA – An official of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) stressed the importance of government subsidies in helping address the impact of rising fuel prices on the public.
During the Palace briefing on Tuesday, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillion said the government has allocated under this year’s national budget a PHP2.5 billion fuel subsidies for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators and a PHP500 million subsidy for the agriculture sector.

She said NEDA is requesting for an increase in the amount of subsidies to PHP5 billion for the transport sector and to PHP1.1 billion for the agriculture sector.

She, however, said they need to wait for the March 2022 fiscal report to check if there will an increase in revenue collections, which will be tapped for the additional subsidies.

“Kapag magkakaroon ng excess revenues from the program, ito po ay magagamit natin sa pag-fund ng tinatawag nating mgaunprogrammed na appropriations. So, ang tingin naman po natin is malamang po magkakaroon din ng excess collection, dito po natin kukuhanin [ang subsidy]. (If there will be excess revenues from the revenue program we can use this to fund what we call unprogrammed appropriations. We think that there will be a likely excess in collections, and this is where we will get the funds for additional subsidy),” she said.

Edillion said authorities are closely monitoring latest developments on prices and noted that while fuel prices have posted upticks in recent weeks the rate of price increases last February remained tame.

Inflation rate in the second month this year remained at 3 percent just like in the previous month but monetary authorities, among others, expect acceleration in the coming months as price of oil in the international market continues to jump.

Edillion said because of the February 2022 inflation outcome authorities want to ensure adequate food supply, which account for the largest share in the consumer price index (CPI) basket.

She said fuel products like the liquified petroleum gas (LPG) as well as energy and then transport also account for a big chunk in the CPI.

“Kaya dito nga po nakaabang iyong subsidiya ng gobyerno to make sure na mai-maintain natin na mababa ang presyo nitong mga ito(This is where the government subsidies are allocated in to make sure prices remain low),” she added.