Solon seeks full implementation of TRAIN law’s social benefits

MANILA The House Ways and Means Committee chairman on Wednesday warned that it might be difficult to pass the second phase of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) at the Lower Chamber if the social benefits in the first tax reform package are not fully implemented.

During a hearing of the congressional oversight committee on the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program law, it was revealed that the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have not yet crafted a revenue regulation for the implementation of some social benefit measures that would cushion the impact of the TRAIN law.

Quirino Rep. Dakila Cua, ways and means panel chair, said the DOF and the BIR should immediately issue the implementing rules and regulations for the implementation of the social benefits.

Make this happen faster and sooner. As we go to TRAIN 2 we cannot avoid the discussion on the effects of Train 1. It would not be easy to pass TRAIN 2 if we are still indebted to the public, said Cua.

Let's prioritize this [social benefit measures] quicker action on these will address the matter. Actually, you are mandated to do it right away, we should do our best to implement it as soon as possible, he said, addressing the DOF and the BIR.

DOF Assistant Secretary Teresa Habitan said the groundwork for the implementation of the social benefits, such as Pantawid Pasada, is still being prepared.

Pantawid Pasada Program is among the social benefit measures under the TRAIN law meant to ease the impact of the excise tax imposed on oil products to commuters and the land transport sector.

Other social benefits under the tax reform law include the unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) to low-income earners amounting to PHP2,400 for 2018 and PHP3,600 for 2019 and 2020, as well as the Pantawid Kuryente program to help small power consumers in missionary electrification areas.

Meanwhile, in a press conference, House minority leader Danilo Suarez said Congress should come up with a deeper study that will determine the impact of the TRAIN law on the economy.

"We have to come up with a deeper study with this. Definitely no TRAIN 2. It was wrong to expect that there would be no negative impact. Everyone would be affected," Suarez said.

He added that he has already warned against recouping government revenue twice as much as it would lose in lowering personal income tax, noting that it was bound to fail.

The TRAIN law imposes higher excise taxes on sweetened beverages, oil, vehicles and cigarettes to compensate for reduced personal income tax rates.

The tax reform law is expected to raise around PHP90 billion in net revenues in 2018. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency