By Lorenz S. Marasigan, October 19 2018; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Philippine Star

COMMUTERS riding jeepneys and buses should brace for a round of fare hike come November, as transport regulators on Thursday provisionally approved the petitions for fare adjustments due to the continuing increases in fuel prices.

Based on separate documents sent to the media, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board has given the go signal—pending a 15-day period after publication— to jeepney operators to increase their base fares to P10, from the provisional P9.

The base fare for a jeepney ride was P8 before a provisional increase of P1 was granted in July. With the new order, the permanent base fare—or the charge for the first 4 kilometers—is now at P9, with an additional provisional P1 increase.

Commuters, Malacañang said, will have to “take the brunt” of the approved fare hikes for both buses and jeepneys for now.

The petitioners, composed of several transport groups, originally sought for a P2 provisional increase to P11 for the base fare, and a P1 increase for every succeeding kilometer. These were denied due to “lack of factual and legal basis.”

The base fare for ordinary buses in Metro Manila was also increased to P11 from P10, but was not given an increase for the succeeding kilometers, while that of the air-conditioned bus was increased from P12 to P13 and its per-kilometer charge of P2.30 remained.

The Associated Labor Union-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) said a higher transportation fare should translate to a higher pay for minimum-wage earners.

ALU-TUCP Spokesman Alan Tanjusay said his group will raise the issue at the forthcoming consultation with the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-National Capital Region  on Monday.

Meanwhile, the base fare for ordinary provincial buses was maintained at P9, but was given a per-kilometer-charge increase of 15 centavos to P1.55.

For regular air-conditioned provincial buses, the per-kilometer charge was increased by 15 centavos to P1.75; same with the de luxe provincial buses with P1.85; the super deluxe with 1.95; and the luxury bus with P2.40.

The regulator approved the provisional increases in view of the increasing fuel prices in the Philippines, noting that it is “more cautious” in granting fare increases due to the inflation print in September, which hit 6.7 percent.

Based on a year-to-date basis, prices of gasoline posted a net increase of P10.55 per liter, P11.5 per liter for diesel and P10.50 per liter for kerosene, data from the Department of Energy showed.

The adjusted fares will take effect after 15 days.

The P2 increase in fare prices for PUVs will not be inflationary, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

On Thursday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told reporters that this is the case even if Neda’s recommendation for the fare hike is only P0.50. However, he said, it’s difficult to speculate how much the fare hikes will increase inflation.

He said the increase in fares will not force the economic team to exceed its inflation targets for the year. He said this is because the fare hike has been factored in the government’s inflation forecast for 2018.

On Tuesday the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) revised its inflation expectations to around 4.8 to 5.2 percent this year and 3 to 4 percent in 2019.

The DBCC said its inflation forecasts from 2020 to 2022 have been retained at 2 to 4 percent, which is consistent with the government’s assessment that inflation will go back to the target level by next year.

The DBCC is composed of the secretary of budget as chairman; the director general of the Neda Secretariat, as cochairman; and the executive secretary, secretary of finance and the governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines as members.

The DBCC recommends to the President the level of annual government expenditures and the ceiling of government spending for economic and social development, national defense and government debt service.

It also recommends the proper allocation of expenditures for each development activity between current operating expenditures and capital outlays and amount set to be allocated for capital outlays broken down into the various capital or infrastructure projects. With Bernadette  D. Nicolas, Samuel P. Medenilla and Cai U. Ordinario