Ramon Ang willing to sell Petron back to gov’t

Petron President and Chief Executive Officer Ramon Ang said on Monday (Nov. 8) he is open to selling the oil company back to the national government amid the successive price hikes.

During the House ways and means committee hearing on the price monitoring of petroleum products, Ang told lawmakers he is willing to sell Petron, which was once state-owned and controlled, to the government at the market value of the firm.

‘Yung sina-suggest na bilhin ng gobyerno ‘yung Petron… anytime po puwede ko pa ipautang sa Philippine government, bilhin ninyo ito ng over five years to pay. I swear kung gusto ng gobyerno bilhin handa niyo na, sabihin niyo na, bebenta ko kaagad sa inyo. Pagawan niyo na ng valuation immediately (Suggestions for the government to buy back Petron… anytime I could sell it to the Philippine government and they could pay for it within five years. I swear, if the government wants to buy it, just tell us, and I could sell it immediately to you. You prepare now a valuation immediately),” Ang said.

During the same hearing, the panel created a technical working group (TWG) to craft a substitute bill reducing fuel excise taxes imposed under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

The proposal will completely suspend excise taxes on diesel (from P6/liter) and kerosene (from P5/liter) from Dec. 1, 2021, to June 1, 2022, while reducing excise taxes on gasoline by as much as P3/liter.

The TWG would also be tasked to differentiate rates between premium and unleaded gasoline, given the use of unleaded gasoline by the public transport sector.

According to the Department of Finance (DOF), the proposal will result in foregone revenues of P37.5 billion.

Committee chair Joey Salceda said this can be offset in part by increases in value-added tax (VAT) collection due to higher prices.

The DOF also estimated that Salceda’s proposal could increase disposable incomes by 0.22% to 0.48%, increase consumption by around 0.2%, and reduce inflation by around 0.14%.

The TWG was also directed to mandate the DOF and Department of Energy to monitor prices and exercise motu propio powers to investigate abnormal price activity, revert to TRAIN tax rates should crude oil prices reach below US$60/barrel during the suspension period, provide the Development Budget Coordination Committee the power to reduce excise tax rates when certain thresholds are breached.

The creation of a Social Impact Stabilization Fund was also proposed, which will be used and appropriated as ayuda (assistance) for the lower 80% of households by income when prices increase. This will be funded by imposing a P2/liter on petroleum products when the prices decline below the 30-year average of prices.

“The government tells me that we do not have the money for a large-scale ayuda for those who will be affected by higher petroleum prices. I think this feature solves that. In the future, when prices go up, we will have funds to support mass financial relief,” he said. (PNA)

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