The tax reform package will increase prices for all Filipinos without the necessary safeguards to protect our poor countrymen.
This is the reason given by Senator Bam Aquino as he rejected the approval of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN.
While Sen. Bam is a co-author of the income tax reform bill and is in full support of increasing the take home pay of many Filipino working class, he voted no to the bundled tax reform package due to the provisions on excise tax on fuel and sweetened beverage tax, which will lead to higher prices of goods and services.
“I cannot, in good conscience, vote for the approval of this tax reform package. Hindi ako pabor sa mga probisyon na magdudulot ng pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin, lalo na dahil ang mga mahihirap na Pilipino ang pinaka tinatamaan dito,” said Sen. Bam on his no-vote for the tax reform package.
To cushion the blow to the poor, the Department of Finance proposed a cash transfer program with a P200 monthly financial assistance on the first year and P300 monthly financial assistance for the second and third year to help cover the increase in prices of basic goods.
But during the period of amendments in the Senate, Sen. Bam’s proposal requiring the financial assistance mechanism to be in place before taxes are increased was not accepted.
“Hindi dapat ipataw ang mga bagong tax na magpapataas ng presyo ng bilihin, tulad ng excise tax on fuel, hangga’t hindi nasisigurado ng gobyerno na magiging maayos ang unconditional cash transfer program,” Sen. Bam stressed.
The DOF admitted that they cannot implement the financial support program for poor families in time for the price increases because of TRAIN next year.
The senator also lamented that the government is forcing hardworking Filipinos to compensate for our inefficiency in tax collection of both the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
Based on data from the Finance Department, Sen. Bam said the government can still collect an additional P726 Billion or 6.44% of GDP if we simplify, address inefficiencies and remove loopholes in BIR.
The government can still collect at least P231 billion or equivalent of 2% of GDP if the P1.8 Trillion importation gap or smuggling is resolved by BOC.
“Para sa pamilyang Pilipino, lalo na para sa mga mahihirap nating kababayan, kontra po ako sa pagtaas ng buwis at pagtaas ng presyo,” Sen. Bam said.