Fuel firms wringing consumers warned

DoE spokesman Felix William Fuentebella

In yet another warning to delinquent petroleum retail outlets exploiting the recent world price hikes to their advantage, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi yesterday cautioned fuel distributors to “cooperate, don’t violate” or they will have to face the consequences of their wringing of the consumers.

This developed as Cusi reiterated that there is an urgent need for retail outlets to heed the implementing guidelines for the second tranche of fuel excise tax. Failure to do so will mean closure of the erring companies.

Department of Energy (DoE) spokesman Felix William Fuentebella repeated Cusi’s order, saying: “The Secretary has been very clear – cooperate, don’t violate. We have been actively explaining and clarifying the implementation process for this second tranche.”

“And since the order is clear, it is better for the companies to follow the rules or we will be forced to implement closure of the erring firms,” he added.

The DoE, Cusi said, is closely monitoring the buffer stocks of these fuel companies, adding majority of them need not implement pump price increase since their stocks could still last for a couple of weeks more.

Oil Industry Management Bureau OIC-Director Rino Abad and Assistant Director Rodela Romero further explained that, since last year, the DoE had taken steps to ensure the stringent monitoring of inventories.

This was done in anticipation of the second tranche of the excise tax implementation.

A DoE directive dated 11 September 2018 required oil companies to submit per-depot and per-product ending inventory reports as of 31 December 2018.

Daily withdrawal reports starting 1 January 2019 until exhaustion were also ordered.

This was done to ensure that the first tranche of excise tax will continue to be imposed on the 2018 ending inventories while the second tranche of excise tax will be imposed only on new inventories imported or produced from local refineries in 2019.

In addition, oil firms were also required to submit a notarized Year-End Inventory Report as of 31 December 2018, covering petroleum products with the old excise tax rate.

These were to be submitted yesterday, 8 January, in time for the submission of the Official Registry Book to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

“These will help the DoE validate the exhaustion of old inventories. We also requested Last Withdrawal Certificates stamped by the BIR as ‘Stocks On-Hand Prior to Applicable Date of Effectivity.’ These would indicate the last removals of petroleum products subject to the old tax rates. On the other hand, the First Withdrawal Certificates with no BIR stamp would indicate the first removals of petroleum products with the new excise tax rate,” Romero expounded.

Abad stressed that aside from breaching tax laws, violators may also face criminal charges.

Other measures being carried out by the department include the inspection of retail outlets that already implemented the new excise tax and the issuance of show-cause orders to give concerned retail outlets the opportunity to explain.

The DoE asked retailers to display notices of the additional excise tax implementation in a one-meter by one-meter tarpaulin for transparency. This would empower the consumers with the ability to choose where to buy fuel, according to Fuentebella.

He added: “Do I go ahead and buy from this station already implementing the new excise tax or do I gas up somewhere else? This is another exercise in consumer empowerment.”

The DoE also continues to assure the public that it is closely monitoring the fair implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN law.

“We are watching closely and coordinating with the BIR and the Bureau of Customs to ensure accurate data reporting and monitoring. As Secretary Cusi had said earlier, we should recognize the value of proper tax remittance. The revenue collected by the government will finance the establishment of key infrastructure, provide educational assistance, as well as other forms of poverty alleviation for our people,” he said.

With Krizara Tibus

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