INDUSTRIALIST PROPOSED SPECIAL POWERS FOR GMA TO PREVENT ENERGY  SHORTAGE

MANILA,  August 10, 2004
(STAR) 
By Marianne Go - Industrialist and consumer advocate Raul Concepcion said yesterday he favors granting President Arroyo special powers to enforce energy conservation measures because of the energy problem facing the country.

He suggested that the President be allowed to impose stricter car usage policies, which could include raising taxes on gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

Concepcion said that most SUVs are bought and used by rich people who can afford to pay higher taxes for such vehicles.

Increasing the tax on SUVs, he said, is preferable to an across-the-board imposition of an additional P2 excise tax on fuel products.

He also disapproves of the proposal to re-nationalize Petron, saying that Petronís strategic partner, Aramco of Saudi Arabia, would not agree to a re-nationalization of the oil firm and is likely to pull out of the country if government enforces such a move.

Without Aramco, Concepcion warned, the country would only endanger its ability to obtain the necessary supplies of crude oil, since Aramco is still a major supplier of the product.

Concepcion has also urged the President to plug revenue loopholes resulting from smuggling before imposing new taxes on the people.

With the continued rise of world crude oil prices and the expected increase in the cost of basic commodities, transport fares and - eventually - wages, businesses are not in a position to pay higher taxes, he said.

He said the government should plug tax leaks and ensure the efficient collection of existing revenue streams before imposing new taxes.

Otherwise, the additional burden on the business sector will only result in layoffs, Concepcion said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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