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Govt readies fuel discounts for transport sector

The Aquino administration is now studying where it can source some P500 million to fund a fuel assistance program for the transport sector in the midst of rising oil prices. Energy Undersecretary Jose Layug over the weekend said the department is "waiting for the Department of Finance to tell us where the funds will come from." An option the government intends to tap is the revenue from the value-added taxe on oil, he said. The Department of Energy said the program aims to provide "fuel cards" to drivers and operators of bus, jeepneys, and tricycles. [See: Govt readies P500-M assistance for transport sector] The fuel card will allow them to buy fuel at P3 per liter lower than current pump prices. Diesel is now sold at P45.25 to P47.25 per liter. The "assistance" may be implemented for one month starting the second quarter of the year or after President Benigno Aquino III's has approved the program, Layug said. Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras on Friday said the amount the government will spend is "not a subsidy but assistance… We look at it as a mechanism of intervention." Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the government would provide fuel discounts to the transport sector as a way of helping the transport sector meet the rising costs of fuel in the midsts of the devastation in Japan and political tensions in the Middle East and North Africa. A total of 214,596 jeepneys, 27,886 buses, 6,648 mini-buses, and a million tricycles nationwide can benefit from the subsidy. Only legitimate franchise holders will be given fuel cards. Cardholders may use the fuel cards at all gasoline stations nationwide, according to the Energy secretary. — JE/VS, GMA News