Scientist group AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People slammed the coal tax included in the Duterte administration’s tax reform program, saying it will result to higher electricity costs despite maintaining business-as-usual coal pollution.

“Electricity consumers are at the losing end with the imposition of the coal tax,” said Finesa Cosico, secretary-general of AGHAM. “They will be burdened with higher electricity rates despite standing to gain no real benefit from the supposed environmental regulation,” she added.

Under the government’s tax reform program Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), the coal tax will increase, from the current P10 per metric ton in a 50-100-150 hike scheme for three years, with the P50 peso increase slated this 2018.

According to the Department of Energy, the coal tax, an excise tax, is classified as a pass-on charge to consumers under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the law which liberalized the country’s energy industry.

“As a pass-on charge, the coal tax will put the entire burden of rising power costs on consumers instead of taxing big-time coal businesses. As such, it will not inhibit the increase of coal-fired power plants,” said Cosico.

The group also negated the assertion that the coal tax is a step towards meeting the country’s carbon emission limits, saying pollution will remain at business-as-usual even with its full implementation.

“The coal tax does not change the fact that coal is still a cheap but dirty energy resource. It also does not change the Duterte government’s framework of using coal as the primary source in the country’s energy mix,” said Cosico.

We demand the reorientation of the coal tax as a charge to be carried by corporations. We call to repeal the EPIRA which has allowed the phenomenon of such pass-on provision. We also call for the redistribution of the energy mix away from the pollutive coal to the indigenous energy resources abundant in the country,” ended Cosico.#


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