TRAIN headed into a tough battle in bicam: Drilon

MANILA -- Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that while the tax reform for acceleration and inclusion (TRAIN) bill could pass the Senate on Tuesday, the real battle would be in the bicameral conference committee.

Drilon made this remark noting that there are numerous "disagreeing provisions" between the Senate and House of Representatives versions.

"The bicam could prove to be the real battleground for the passage of the TRAIN, Drilon said in a press statement noting that he expected "tough and tedious" debates on the disagreeing provisions of the measure.

He said that if both chambers fail to arrive at a compromise on every disagreeing provision of the bill, there could be lengthy debates that could derail its approval.

The TRAIN is expected for implementation by January 2018.

Drilon said that the contentious provisions of the measure are the proposed additional excise taxes on petroleum, minerals, coal, and cosmetic procedures.

He also said that reconciling the different proposals made by the Senate and House on sugar and sweetened beverages, automobiles, value-added tax (VAT) zero rating and lifting of VAT exemptions, is also expected to difficult.

Also expected to be the subject of debates are the earmarking provisions of the bill and exemptions provided to various sectors, among others.

The Senate's version of the TRAIN approved excise tax on petroleum products. However, the imposition of the petroleum taxes could be suspended depending on certain factors, namely the prices of the Dubai crude oil and the inflation rate vis-a-vis inflation targets.

It has also approved lower taxes for sugar-sweetened beverages, except those that use high fructose corn syrup, which will be slapped with higher taxes.

Moreover, it also adopted a 10-percent excise tax on cosmetic procedures for aesthetic purposes.

Also among its amendments is a 3,000-percent increase in coal taxes, to be implemented in three tranches until 2020.

From the current PHP10 excise taxes on coal which will be increased to PHP100 in 2018, PHP200 in 2019, and PHP300 by 2020.

The Senate also doubled the excise taxes on minerals and mineral products and quarry resources aimed towards responsible mining and environmental protection.

Another Senate initiative is the proposed exemption of prescription drugs and medicines from value-added tax.

Source: Philippine News Agency