Philippines sets cash grants for public transport drivers as fuel prices soar

October 25, 2021 - 1:55 PM
Face shield policy in the Philippines
A bus driver and passengers wear face masks and face shields, both mandatory in public transportation, to help curb coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, August 19, 2020. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

MANILA — The Philippine government said on Monday it would provide 1 billion pesos ($19.7 million) in cash grants to tens of thousands of drivers of public utility vehicles to ease the burden of soaring fuel costs.

The cash dole-out will benefit around 178,000 drivers, a government inter-agency panel said in a statement.

It is the only measure approved so far in response to calls for financial relief for consumers from rising fuel prices.

Calls are mounting for the suspension of the excise tax on petroleum products, which the energy ministry supports.

The finance ministry, however, has some reservations, with officials cautioning it could affect the government’s COVID-19 recovery budget.

The energy minister, Alfonso Cusi, has proposed his department be given authority to suspend the excise tax.

Cusi last week said he had met with oil companies seeking their commitment to ensure supply, and asked if fuel price discounts could also be provided to consumers. —Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Martin Petty