By Ellson Quismorio
The Lower Chamber is eyeing the passage of President Rodrigo Duterte’s tax and economic reform measures by the end of the year, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said on Monday, or a week after the Chief Executive made a formal plea to Congress.
“The House of Representatives will work hard to pass President Duterte’s tax and economic reform measures by the end of the year to further propel the country’s economic growth. If we can sustain this, we might go to greater heights never seen before,” reckoned Romualdez, who represents the first district of Leyte.
But this early, Romualdez is already guaranteeing that the measures will be subjected to necessary consultations with the public given the burdensome nature of tax bills.
“However, it is our duty to consult the people when imposing additional taxes. We will make sure that the measures to be approved are reasonable and acceptable to all,” he said.
Romualdez said these measures include alcohol taxes, property valuation, and capital income tax.
In his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 22, President Duterte asked lawmakers to pass the
TRABAHO or Tax Reform for Attracting Better and Higher-quality Opportunities bill, which seeks to reduce the corporate income tax to 20 percent from the current 30 percent.
TRABAHO is the second tranche of the Duterte administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program or CTRP.
“I’m also asking Congress to pass the remaining packages of my administration’s tax reform program and the bills that will further raise excise tax on tobacco and alchohol,” the populist leader was quoted as saying.
Romualdez, for his part, acknowledged that taxes “are considered the lifeblood of the nation”.
“The government needs funds to operate smoothly, so it can serve the people properly,” pointed out the Visayas solon, who also sits as the president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa).
“Lifting Filipinos out of poverty is the top priority of President Duterte in the next three years and we need everybody’s support for this mission. The numbers now are good. All poverty indicators are at all-time low.
“We just need to stay on the course and make sure that all the programs and policies are in place for the next phase of the war against poverty,” Romualdez further said.
Composed of six packages, the administration’s tax reform plan proposes significant changes to the tax system that will reduce tax rates, the impact of which will be compensated by measures that will broaden the tax base.
The first package known as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law lowered income tax rates for Filipinos, with the tradeoff coming in the form of rather hefty excise taxes on commodities such as petroleum products, coal, and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB).
The law was first implemented in January 2018.