PUJ drivers’ subsidy starts — DoE

A jeepney driver counts his daily earnings while driving. YUMMIE DINGDING

Each public utility jeepney (PUJ) driver will receive P5,000 in one-time subsidy this year under the Pantawid Pasada scheme which is part of social safety nets the government has provided amid rising fuel prices.

Department of Energy (DoE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi signed yesterday a circular providing the guidelines for the subsidy scheme.

Some P977 million was allocated for the remaining six months of the year under the unprogrammed appropriations of this year’s national budget for the program.

For next year, some P3.86 billion would be allocated from the budget, increasing subsidy per jeepney driver to P20,515.

The subsidy was to bridge the increase in fuel prices from higher excise tax on oil products under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law that took effect this year.

The upsurge in fuel prices, however, was more due to the volatility in the cost of crude oil in the world market rather than the effects of TRAIN.

The heads of the departments of budget, transportation and energy along with heads of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank) signed a joint memorandum circular (JMC) to kick off the fuel subsidy program.

Under the JMC, the DoE will be responsible for coordinating with oil companies the acceptance of Pantawid Pasada cards among gas stations.

The DoE and the Landbank are in charge of identifying areas with limited or no access to retail Point of Sale systems where vouchers instead of cards are honored.

DoE proactive
In his message, Cusi said the DoE has been implementing mitigating measures “proactively” to help cushion the effects of higher prices, particularly on the country’s “vulnerable transport sector.”

“We called on our partners in the oil industry to grant fuel discounts to public utility

vehicles, in addition to their CSR programs. This resulted in our memorandum of agreements (MoA) with Petron, Shell and Phoenix Petroleum,” he said.

He added the DoE will be ready to extend assistance to partner agencies in implementing the fuel subsidy program.

Cusi underlined the DoE’s vigilance in finding more ways to provide targeted relief to the public transport sector.

“You can be sure that the DoE will pursue close coordination with oil companies for the expansion of PUV discounts and to ensure the success of the Pantawid Pasada program,” Cusi said.

180,000 drivers to benefit
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said around 180,000 jeepney drivers would benefit from the program, within the first two years of the TRAIN law’s implementation.

“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.