THE GOVERNMENT launched a fuel subsidy program for public utility jeepneys (PUJs) on Wednesday, allocating a budget of P977 million for the project to cover the remaining months of 2018.
The Department of Transportation (DoTr), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Energy (DoE), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and Land Bank of the Philippines signed the joint memorandum circular on the Pantawid Pasada Program to issue a P5,000 subsidy per PUJ unit from July to December.
“The Pantawid Pasada Program will cover 179,850 units or 100% of the PUJ units with existing LTFRB franchises,” Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said in his speech during the ceremony.
“The fuel subsidy will cover the increase in fuel expense incurred by our jeepney drivers due to the higher excise tax on fuel,” he added.
Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said distribution of debit cards worth P833 will start on Thursday, starting with 10,000 cards to be given within the next three days. He also said the subsidy will increase next year.
Mr. Diokno said the budget allocated for the Pantawid Pasada program next year is P3.86 billion, covering the 12 months to December.
He told reporters the subsidy this year is based on the daily fuel consumption of drivers. It is meant to cover the excise tax on fuel that has been affecting drivers since the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law in January.
“It’s not intended to cover all their expenses on fuel. It’s just incremental, because their tax increased. That used to be zero, now it’s 2.50. Next year, it will be 4.50,” he said.
He added that the subsidy lowers the chances of a jeepney fare hike, particularly with oil prices expected to fall soon.
LTFRB Chairman Martin B. Delgra III said the agency will manage the distribution of the cards to operators, which will indicate the operator name and plate number of the PUJ units to avoid misuse.
In May, transport groups said PUJ drivers use up around 15 to 20 liters of fuel each day on shortdistance trips. Using a base price of P45 for diesel, a jeepney driver thus spends almost P900 daily for fuel. — Denise A. Valdez