Additional fuel subsidy P600-M for farmers, fishermen

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The fuel discount cards for farmers and fishermen will be available in the coming days, under a 500 million peso grant from the Ministry of Agriculture (DA) which will have an additional allocation of 600 million pesos next month, an official said on Friday.

In an interview with radio station dzBB, Assistant Agriculture Secretary Arnel de Mesa said the additional funds for the fuel subsidy, set at P3,000 per farmer or fisherman, are expected by April.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Thursday released 3 billion pesos in fuel subsidies for drivers and operators of public utility vehicles (VUPs) and agricultural producers following the exacerbated spike in fuel prices by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Of this total, 2.5 billion pesos would be paid to the Ministry of Transport (DOTr) and 500 million pesos to the DA for their fuel subsidy programs intended to “provide targeted assistance to affected sectors and cushion the impact of consecutive increases in oil prices in the last three months.

The money came from their respective allocations in the 2022 national budget of 5.02 trillion pula.

“We are in talks with our partner, Development Bank of the Philippines, to smooth out the distribution of fuel discount cards in the amount of P3,000 each in the coming days,” De Mesa said.

30% off

According to the guidelines issued by the DA, farmers and fishermen would get a 30% discount every time they buy gasoline or diesel at a designated gas station until they use up the maximum. of P3,000 per farmer or fisherman.

Beneficiaries would be maize farmers who use machinery for production, from land preparation to post-harvest activities, and fishermen who use motor boats.

Eligible farmers and members of farmers’ cooperatives and associations must be registered and be able to prove that they own and operate a working machine.

Qualified fishermen and members of fishermen’s cooperatives and associations must also be registered and use registered motorized bancas of three gross tons or less. They must also use legal fishing gear.

Participating oil companies or service stations would receive assistance from the Department of Energy through the regional offices of the DA.

Oil companies on Tuesday implemented the largest increase in the price of fuel per liter so far this year: 5.85 pesos for diesel, 4.10 pesos for kerosene and 3.60 pesos for gasoline.

The price of diesel has increased by 17.50 pesos per liter and gasoline by 13.25 pesos per liter since January this year.

Rented by the CHR

The Human Rights Commission (CHR) has praised the government for the subsidies given to farmers and fishermen.

“This will help cushion the impact on their income while helping to keep the cost of food at bay,” CHR spokeswoman Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.

She said the CHR looked forward to a “speedy, transparent and fair” distribution of the grant.

“[The] The CHR hopes that the various supports and assistance will help sustain agricultural livelihoods, especially among vulnerable members of the agricultural sector,” De Guia said.

The 6,500 peso subsidy for the transportation sector will be distributed on March 15 through Land Bank of the Philippines cash cards and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) vouchers.

Modesto Floranda, president of Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (Piston), on Friday urged the LTFRB to ease the process of getting the grant, citing previous bad experiences.

He said that in the past, drivers and operators in Metro Manila had to go to the LTFRB’s National Capital Region office in Fairview, Quezon City, which is located in the northernmost part of town, just to get an answer on why their charge cards had no balance. and present documents proving that they are beneficiaries.

Among the documents they had to submit were a copy of the vehicle’s franchise, driver’s license and jeepney registration. If the jeepney was purchased, the bill of sale would have to be submitted instead of just registration, he said.

He also said some drivers held charge cards with no balance when they used them to pay for gas.

“Based on our past experiences, the grant application process is too slow,” Floranda told the Inquirer. “The process alone is already a difficulty for us and we hope the LTFRB will facilitate this by publishing the guidelines.”

He said that in addition to providing subsidies, the government must now consider suspending excise duty on fuel and repealing the Petroleum Deregulation Act 1998.

“Those are the things they should consider. We welcome the fuel subsidy, but I think it’s time they saw their actions as long-term instead of just handing out the subsidy,” Flonda said. —WITH A REPORT BY DEMPSEY REYES

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