Senator Bam Aquino informed the public to brace for the increase in prices of basic commodities in 2018 due to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) that was enacted into law recently by the government.
“We won’t be surprised by the increase in prices in 2018. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit kumontra tayo sa pagsasabatas ng TRAIN dahil masasagasaan nito ang mga kababayan nating mahihirap,” said Sen. Bam.
Sen. Bam made the reaction after the Industrial Group of Zamboanga warned that prices of sardines will increase starting next year due to the excise tax imposed on petroleum products.
“Ito’y isa lang sa inaasahan nating pagtaas sa presyo ng bilhin na ang papasan ay ang mahihirap nating kababayan,” Sen. Bam said.
Sen. Bam rejected the TRAIN’s approval due to the inability of government to implement the financial assistance program in time for the increase in prices due to provisions on excise tax on fuel and sweetened beverage tax.
The Department of Finance (DOF) 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.
During the period of amendments, Sen. Bam pushed for the immediate implementation of the cash transfer program to help poor Filipinos absorb the expected increase in the prices of goods and services. However, Sen. Bam’s proposal was not accepted by the DOF.
“In the end, poor Filipinos will bear the brunt of this tax reform program as it will increase the prices of basic commodities without the immediate cash transfer assistance to the poor” said Sen. Bam.
Sen. Bam renewed his call to the government to speed up the implementation of the cash transfer program so poor people won’t be burdened by the increase in prices.
Sen. Bam is also hoping that the increase in take-home pay will be enough to offset the increase of prices of goods and services.
In addition, the lawmaker urged the government to focus on improving the performance of revenue-generating agencies such as the Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
Data from the Finance Department shows that an additional P726 billion can still be collected by government by addressing inefficiencies and removing loopholes in the BIR.
The government can also collect at least P231 billion if the importation gap and smuggling is resolved by BOC.