GMA WANTS TO GIVE INCENTIVES TO FIRMS GIVING TRANSPORT ALLOWANCES

MANILA
, March 4, 2005
(STAR) By Aurea Calica  -  President Arroyo wants to give incentives to firms giving transportation allowances to employees to enable them to cope with rising oil prices, as she ordered a review of the Oil Deregulation Law.

"It can be done by legislation, but more desirably by executive action so we can act immediately," she told reporters in Roxas City yesterday.

Mrs. Arroyo said she had authorized Energy Secretary Vincent Perez to form a team that would review Republic Act 8479, the oil deregulation law, to determine what the government could do to protect consumers.

Mrs. Arroyo also asked Sen. Manuel Roxas II, who was with her in Roxas City, what action the government could take to resolve the matter.

"We have to make sure that the public will not be exploited," Roxas said. "We have to be able to monitor the prices. That is part of the Presidentís program."

Mrs. Arroyo and Roxas monitored prices at a trade center in Roxas City and checked the weighing scales of vendors.

On the other hand, a transport leader said Congress should just repeal the oil deregulation law as its review would only lead to nothing.

"Itís all for show," a report quoted Efren de Luna, Philippine Confederation of Drivers Operators-Alliance of Concerned Transport Organizations national president as saying.

"It is easy to review and amend, but it will be a lot better if this law is scrapped."

Earlier, transportation operators said higher oil prices would lead to an increase in the minimum fare in Metro Manila, from P5.50 to P7.50.

Raising the VAT to 12 percent could send the minimum fare to P8 or P9, they added.

MalacaŮang hopes that Congress could immediately amend the seven-year-old oil deregulation law after the Department of Energy has completed its review and recommendations.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the government could only request oil firms to temper the price hikes of their products.

"The world oil price market is of course a big factor," he told state-owned radio station dzRB. "On our end, what we can do now is look into our oil deregulation law."

Only Congress has the power to decide what to do with the oil deregulation law, Bunye said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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