Duterte to Congress: Help me pull six million Filipinos out of poverty

By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has called on Congress to help him pull six million Filipinos out of poverty and generate 1.4 million jobs by passing certain tax reform measures.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his 4th State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 22, 2019. (KING RODRIGUEZ / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/ MANILA BULLETIN)
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his 4th State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 22, 2019. (KING RODRIGUEZ / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/ MANILA BULLETIN)

In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) Monday, the President said the second comprehensive tax reform package would support the government’s poverty alleviation programs as well as spur the development of small businesses.

“Poverty incidence fell from 27.6 percent in the first half of 2015 to 21 percent in the first half of 2018. The most important number, though, is the six million Filipinos we need to pull out from poverty. Kindly help me on this,” he said in his remarks before a joint session of Congress.

“We have pursued tax reforms to fund our poverty reduction programs. I therefore implore Congress to immediately pass Package 2 of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, or the TRABAHO Bill, which shall gradually lower the income — corporate income tax, and rationalize and improve fiscal incentives,” he said.

He maintained that a simpler and fairer corporate tax system would “energize” micro, small, and medium enterprises and encourage them to expand their businesses. Such move would hopefully generate 1.4 million jobs in the coming years, Duterte added.

“The MSMEs hold the promise of raising a lot of the Filipinos,” he said.

Under the proposed Tax Reform for Attracting Better and Higher Quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) Act, the government seeks to reduce the corporate income tax rate from 30 percent to 25 percent for a large majority of businesses and modernize fiscal incentives. The revenues will reportedly be used to fund infrastructure and social development programs and bring the tax effort to level compatible with other dynamic economies in the region.

Apart from the corporate income tax reform, the President endorsed the passage of the remaining tax reform proposals, including higher excises taxes on sin products.

“I am also asking Congress to pass the remaining packages of my administration’s tax reform program, and the bills that would further raise excise taxes on — very good, let us do it — tobacco and alcohol,” he said.

Duterte said in jest that smokers should be “exterminated from the face of the earth,” citing he acquired Buerger’s disease due to his smoking habit.

 
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