Fishers brace for another impact of TRAIN law

Fishers brace for another impact of TRAIN law

Manila, Philippines – As the 3rd and final tranche of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) is in effect this start of the year, small fishers fear for its impact on their livelihood, particularly on the price of fuel.

In a statement on Tuesday, the national fishers group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said that small fisherfolk bear the brunt of the TRAIN law through its oil price hike, which since its implementation in 2018 had surged up to P9 per liter of gasoline, while P4.50 per liter for diesel.

On the 3rd tranche, excise taxes for gasoline, diesel, and kerosene will increase to P1.00, P1.50, and P1.00, consecutively.

Based on the group’s study, under the first and second tranches of TRAIN law, price of diesel since 2018 has surged up to P40 per liter from P36 per liter before the tax reform took effect. This means a small fisher who regularly consumes 12 liters of diesel spent at least P480 from P432 for the crude oil alone. PAMALAKAYA said that cost of petroleum products eats up almost 80% of their production trip. For a month, the poor fishermen were burdened of additional P1, 000 expenses for fuel costs due to the TRAIN law.

“Now that the final tranche of TRAIN increases the price of petroleum by another P1, production cost of small fishers would also increase to another all-time high,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

Other production costs, the group added, include food needs of the boat owner and its companion which usually costs around P150, among other expenses.

The group decried that the output of every fishing trip does not usually guarantee that it can recover the amount spent during the production due to prevalent decrease of the municipal fish catch, which now ranges from 2-5 kilos per fishing trip.

“Because we can’t even earn the cost of production, we have to borrow money with excessive interest rates to cover the production costs of their fishing operation, making us fall prey to shark loans,” Hicap explained.

The group said that as the effect of the oil-price hike, fisherfolk have to cut fishing trip from the regular 6-8 hours to 4-6 hours, as well as the fishing days from the average of 4-5 days to 3 days a week. This means, the group lamented, a dramatic decrease to their already small income and days of starvation.

“What we need is a support to our livelihood, not another oil price increase through tax reform law that would bury the poorest sector in debt,” ended Hicap. ###

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