Tax reform measures’ forum held in Puerto Princesa; advocates say plans will boost economy

To ensure understanding of the recently proposed tax reform measures and to build a broad base of support for the said proposal, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), in partnership with the Department of Finance (DOF) and the USAID’s Facilitating Public Investment (FPI) Project, is conducting a series of road shows in the country. The forum’s Southern Luzon leg, with the theme “Deepening Understanding of the Tax Reform Program”, was held on Friday, February 24 at Aziza Paradise Hotel in Puerto Princesa.

DOF Assistant Secretary Maria Theresa Habitan explained before the forum’s multi-sectoral participants the Comprehensive Tax Reform Package (CTRP), which according to her is contained in House Bill (HB) 4774 authored by Rep. Dakila Carlo Chua, the Lower House’s Committee Chair on Ways and Means. The said HB is tagged as Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN). Another proposal, House Bill 4888 and dubbed as Tax Administration Reform Act (TARA), was filed by Rep Joey Salceda of Albay as an accompanying bill to address inefficiencies at the Bureau of Internal Revenue. In her summary, Habitan said the enactment of the said measures will lower personal income taxes while broadening the tax base by restructuring and increasing the tax on consumption.

In a media release of DOF quoting Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua, the sizable increase in revenue via CTRP will enable the Duterte administration to meet its goal of “drastically reducing poverty and transforming the country into an upper-middle economy in 2022 by spending big on infrastructure, human capital and social protection for the poor and other vulnerable sectors.”

According to DOF, based on their computation and as also agreed by the House Committee, the tax reform plan, if approved before June this year, will yield a net gain of Php 41.5B in the second half of 2017.

The press release also quoted Chua as saying that the “the revised tax reform package which covers the lowering of personal income tax and a corresponding set of revenue-compensating measures, will correct the flaws in our tax system.”

The road show started in Davao City for Mindanao-based firms last February 17. The Visayas leg will be in Bohol on March 3 and the last leg for Manila and Northern Luzon on March 10 in Makati City.

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