Senator Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, is pushing to postpone raising taxes on coal until a policy allowing consumers to choose their energy source has been adopted. The proposed coal tax is included in the pending tax reform bill or Senate Bill 1592 which is up for discussion at the Congress bicameral conference committee.
SB 1592 proposes raising coal excise tax from the current ₱10 per metric ton to ₱100 in 2018, ₱200 in 2019, and ₱300 in 2020. If the excise tax is approved, an average consumer using 200kwh/month will have to pay an extra ₱4.78 per month in the first year. This will increase to ₱14.35 per month in the second and ₱28.70 per month in the third year. He added that compared to other tax hikes in the TRAIN bill, consumers do not have a choice when it comes to using electricity.
Senator Gatchalian noted that the government can implement the Senate’s proposed coal tax increase once the retail competition and open access (RCOA) system is in place. RCOA is the retail competition open access in which when the consumer will be given the power to choose, to buy wherever he wants. The RCOA is one of the provisions under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA).
Senator Gatchalian cited the proposal as an unfair imposition since there will be a slowdown in the growth of manufacturing sector with its dependency on electricity. – Ma. Divine Grace T. Derez