By Ellson Quismorio
A House leader on Thursday filed a bill seeking to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
Surigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House Dangerous Drugs Committee, wants to repeal Section 43 of the statute, which covered the rather hefty excise taxes on pump fuel totaling P6 per liter from 2018 to 2020.
Barbers’s House Bill (HB) No. 8369 states that excise taxes on fuel under the TRAIN Law will automatically be reverted to the old National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) rates of excise tax on fuel.
“Prices of fuel have increased significantly and will be much higher on the next tranche of implementation of TRAIN in 2019 and 2020. The increase on fuel prices affects the prices of basic goods and services as producers or manufacturers may pass production costs to consumers,” said the Mindanaoan solon.
Barbers also said that while the TRAIN Law gives relief to taxpayers due to lowering of personal income tax (PIT) rates, he noted that the burden falls heavily on the shoulders of minimum wage earners.
”Matagal na pong nagdu-dusa ang ating mga mahihirap na kababayan. Ang ating mga trabahador na hindi naman nababawasan ng income tax simula pa man, hindi nila naramdaman na nadagdagan ang pera na inuuwi nila sa kanilang mga pamilya. Ngunit ramdam na ramdam nila ang bigat ng pagtaas ng lahat ng presyo ng bilihin dahil sa pagtaas ng presyo ng langis,” he stated.
(Our poor countrymen have long been suffering. Our workers whose salaries aren’t subjected to minimum tax don’t receive additional income for their families. But they feel the brunt of skyrocketing prices of basic goods, which is caused by fuel price hikes.)
Billed as the first package of the Duterte administration’s tax reform package, TRAIN was imposed on January 1, 2018. The additional taxes under the law was supposed to be mitigated by workers’ increased take home pay thanks to lowered income tax rates.
Barbers filed HB No. 8369 on the heels of another fuel price, the seventh in as many weeks.
Barbers also noted that Section 82 of the TRAIN Act seeks to mitigate the effects of the law by providing unconditional cash transfers, fuel vouchers to qualified PUJ franchise holders, fare discount, reduced price of NFA rice, and free skills training.
However, the same section also states that to ensure the grants will reach the legitimate beneficiaries, the National ID system must first be fully implemented.
“These measures provide reprieve. But they need to be complemented by the full implementation of the National ID System Law. Ibig sabihin, talagang mararamdaman muna ng ating mga kababayan ang hirap (That means our countrymen will have to undergo suffering first),” Barbers said.
“While RA 10963 is laudable, it should also be adaptable to change, especially now that prices of commodities have gone high. And as legislators, it is our duty to hear the cry of the poor. At pag sinabi ng mahihirap na mas lalo silang naghihirap, maniwala po tayo sa kanila (If the poor say that they are getting poorer, we should believe them),” he added.