MANILA, Philippines – Several lawmakers are making a last-ditch move to remove some provisions in the proposed Comprehensive Tax Reform Package (CTRP), which they said would be burdensome to the people.
They have until Monday to submit their proposed amendments to Quirino Representative Dakila Cua, chairperson of the ways and means committee.
Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco, in a letter to Cua, pitched for the removal of the excise tax on petroleum products. Under the current bill, the increase in excise tax will result in a P3 per liter increase in prices of gasoline and diesel on the first year of implementation, which is targeted in 2018; P2 per liter in 2019; and, P1 per liter in 2020.
Tiangco said the bill, if not amended, “will definitely result in the increase of the daily expenses of majority of our countrymen, most of whom are living below the poverty line.”
In particular, he said the cost of food and goods will increase with the imposition of excise tax on kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas and diesel.
“This is probably the first time in the history of our nation that excise tax is sought to be imposed on these three petroleum products, which are mostly used by our poor countrymen,” Tiangco said.
Zarate quits as co-author
In a separate letter, Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Zarate withdrew as co-author of the CTRP, which is under House Bill 5636, saying this was “not in consonance with the intentions” that he sought when he filed House Bill 333.
Zarate’s bill was one of those consolidated under HB 5636.
He said his bill “aimed to initiate a progressive system of taxation, by alleviating first the plight of our people who for the longest time have been overtaxed, yet gravely underpaid.”
“Yet, with the consolidated HB 5636, our underpaid yet already overtaxed majority would even be burdened by higher prices of basic goods and services,” he said.
“The so-called complementary reforms tied with the restructured income brackets, like the increase in excise taxes and the expansion of VAT bases, have ironically only made the poor pay more. Meanwhile, rich individuals and corporations expect expanded tax exemption schemes, with investment tax expenditures projected to increase year by year,” Zarate added.
In a news conference, AGAP partylist Representative Rico Geron, chairperson of the committee on cooperatives development, said several congressmen have joined their call to keep the VAT (value added tax) exemption on the operation of cooperatives all over the country.
Geron said the Department of Finance (DOF) estimates to generate additional revenue of around P5 billion when the VAT exemption on cooperatives is lifted.
Geron acknowledged the need to plug the leakage of duties and taxes due on goods and services, but said that this should be addressed without making the entire cooperatives sector suffer.
“Kung may isang daga sa palayan, bakit mo naman susunugin ang buong palayan para lang patayin ang isang daga?” he said.
He said cooperatives contribute to socio-economic development by making available its services especially to small businesses that could not avail of loan in banks.
Earlier, partylist Representative Anthony Bravo, who represents COOP-NATCCO, said the new tax measure will affect around 14 million cooperative members, who currently benefit from the lower loan rates, higher interest in deposits and lower fees.
“Cooperatives give voice to the powerless. Today, we have over 25,000 cooperatives gathering together 14 million Filipinos partaking to the collective endeavor of helping each other address their economic, social and cultural needs.,” he said.
In terms of employment generation, cooperatives have also provided 463,789 direct employment and 1.5 million indirect jobs to vulnerable sectors like the micro entrepreneurs.
“Cooperatives are also tax generators. In fact, they have remitted to the government 6.3-B pesos Withheld taxes in 2015,” Bravo said.
AKO Bicol partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe, the head of the partylist coalition at the House, which is composed of 44 congressmen, said they would push for the retention of the VAT exemption on cooperatives.