MANILA, May 31, 2018 – President Rodrigo R. Duterte has emphasized the need to implement the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law to raise more funds to run the country.
“We have, all the while, (been) having problems, inflation is always there. There are many reasons, but also actually one of them is the TRAIN. But I need money to run the country,” Duterte said in his speech during Wednesday night’s Presidential Security Group (PSG) Change of Command ceremony at Malacañang Park.
Some lawmakers call for suspension of the additional excise tax brought by TRAIN law implementation while others suggest postponing implementation of the entire law amid rising inflation rate.
“If you do not give it, fine,” the President said.
For some skeptics, Duterte reassured them that he would never allow anyone to use taxpayers’ money in illicit activities and personal interest.
“Congress was quite skeptic that it will just end up in corruption. That’s why I said, if that is how you think of us, me, then forget it,” Duterte said.
“I will look for other ways of doing it, maybe longer. But if they said I will steal, then I don’t need that. What I can say, no transaction of government ever reaches me,” he added.
Despite the limited resources of government, Duterte expressed optimism that his administration would be able to bring modest improvement to the Filipinos’ lives.
“We will maybe reach a modest improvement. I do not see any fantastic happening but with the limited resources of our country, many were helping. I said a modest improvement of what we have now would be okay,” Duterte said.
TRAIN is the first package of the comprehensive tax reform program envisioned by Duterte’s administration to correct a number of deficiencies in the tax system to make it simpler, fairer, and more efficient.
According to the Department of Finance (DOF), TRAIN pushed up inflation by only 0.4 percentage point, lower than its projected 0.7 percentage point. Other factors, such as the rise in global oil prices and the better collection of cigarette excise taxes drove inflation to 4.5 percent in April this year.
As a result of TRAIN, disposable income rose about 15 percent on average for wage-earners as income tax rates were reduced, it added.
DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has warned that suspending TRAIN law would derail the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program which is meant to sustain the economy’s high-growth momentum.
He said suspension would possibly even imperil the free tuition program in state universities and colleges; salary hike for police and military personnel; and conditional cash transfer program. (PNA)