Speed up decision on provisional fare hike; study on wage hike should be next – Magsaysay

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay said that the government should hasten the release of its decision on the transport groups’ petition for a provisional fare hike lest they be compelled to take to the streets again to stage demonstrations.

“The transport sector is growing wary of the slow progress of their petition of fare increase, especially since petroleum prices are rising on a weekly basis. Each week, they are plagued with new impositions on their meager income as most of their day’s worth of effort are allotted mostly for gasoline,” she said. “As the speed of increases rise, it seems that the movement of their petition is going the opposite direction.”

Magsaysay said that the provisional increase may serve as a temporary solution for the transport sector that may be the adjusted once the prices of oil in the world market normalizes.

The lawmaker said that after the complaints of the transport groups are addressed, then reviews for salary increases are also in order, especially for minimum wage earners who are the worst hit by inflation.

“Studies must be undertaken to determine whether or not their salaries are still coping with the rate of inflation,” she said. “If not, then remedies should be made in order to give them a fighting chance against this rapid pace of price change in the local market. When was the last time they were given wage hikes anyway? Let us give them what is fair.”

In another news,  Magsaysay said that the ERC should strictly monitor the implementation of the latest power hike that will affect residents of Metro Manila and nearby provinces  and compel Meralco to educate consumers on the actual rate of increase imposed on them so they will be able to monitor their bills properly.

The ERC has recently approved the petition of power distributor Meralco to collect P2.3 billion from its consumers over a five year period as part of the recovery of local franchise taxes paid from 1999-2009.

“Since there is going to be differences in the rates imposed in different areas, then the power distributor should be clear and inform consumers why this has to happen and how much they are supposed to pay over which period of time. This way, the collection and monitoring will be transparent, not only on the part of the government but also from the consumers’ end as well,” she said.

Magsaysay said that while she supports groups that are clamoring for the scrapping of the VAT on power, she sees the move as pointless since the government has been adamant abut maintaining the tax at its current level and has remained deaf to the calls for adjustments.

“Many groups, lawmakers, and protests have tried and failed to sway the government with regard to the issue of VAT. While it is my hope that it may one day change its mind and see the need to make adjustments to alleviate the plight of the consumers who are reeling from the high prices of oil and power, at this point, exploring other alternatives may have a bigger chance of success.” #