Senator seeks moratorium on Guam's liquid fuel tax
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Sen. Joe S. San Agustin introduced a bill proposing to waive the levy of excise taxes, automotive surcharges and mass transit automotive surcharges on liquid fuel for 180 calendar days and to amend the appropriations for the Department of Public Works.
Bill 295-36 intends to place a moratorium, acknowledging that the repeal of liquid fuel taxes as proposed in Bill 261-36 would cause a decline in Guam’s ability to repair roads and not guarantee savings at the gas pumps.
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The proposed gas tax repeal nd added surcharges would cause a reduction in collections for the repair of Guam’s secondary roads estimated at almost $20 million a year.
“The moratorium will ensure that the people are given some reprieve and, while not guaranteed, it is a way for the government to extend support while ensuring we do not repeal a law that will affect the government’s ability to maintain and repair secondary roads for years to come,” San Agustin said.
The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. San Agustin Vice Speaker Tina Muña Barnes, Sen. Amanda Shelton, Sen. Pedo Terlaje, Sen. Tony Ada, Sen. Frank Blas, Jr. and Sen. Jim Moylan.
Speaker Therese Terlaje, author of Bill 261-36, said a swift and decisive response must be made to assist families who are living paycheck to paycheck before decisions are made to prioritize $5 million in capital improvements.
It is noteworthy to understand that prioritizing capital improvements are part of the responsibility of our government to ensure proper and continued services and programs are provided for all our people, she said.
“My work on behalf of the people of Guam is to ensure we are equitably addressing the various issues that come before us, whether it be savings at the store or building capacity for our children, students and families to flourish. Our work is not just for today, but for the long run that will ultimately affect future generations,” San Agustin said.
The Committee on Appropriations has been reviewing Bill 261-36 and has not been convinced that repealing the entire law will save gas consumers.
Bill 261-36 identified American Rescue Plan Act funds to be used to make up for the loss in revenue but is prohibited by federal law.
“The ability for island residents to save money at the pump or anywhere is important as we look to the end of this pandemic. Even with commitments from the island’s gas companies to pass on the 14 cents savings to customers, it is no guarantee that the cost of fuel will stay low," San Agustin said.
"Two weeks ago, gas was $5.69 per gallon and just a week later, it went up to $5.89. If the 14 cents repeal was implemented from the cost and the cost of fuel went up 20 cents, where is the savings? Let’s give some relief and still have the ability to fix our roads,” he added.