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TRAIN 2 moving along, slowly

CONSUMER WOES Protesters rally last month against the effects of TRAIN at the Department of Agriculture office. EDWIN BACASMAS

President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies in Congress moved to push the administration’s second tax reform package amid criticism that its first measure spurred inflation to new highs.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he would not intervene in how the Senate ways and means committee would handle it.

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In the House of Representatives, the House committee on ways and means approved the tax measure “in principle,” but took steps to ease fears that the package would again impose new taxes.

Quirino Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua, chair of the House committee, said the panel decided to rename the second package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, called TRAIN 2.

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Corporate taxes

Under the proposal, the package would cut corporate income tax rates from 30 percent to 25 percent, and remove incentives some investors enjoyed under a variety of earlier programs.

“Incentives are not entitlements,” Cua said. “They are privileges that should be earned.”

Cua said the committee also decided to form a technical working group to reconcile proposals to “rationalize” investment incentives covered by 123 special laws.

Aside from the 123 investment incentive laws, 192 non-investment incentive laws bring the total to 315 laws granting incentives.

Cua said government data showed that 57 percent of companies currently enjoying incentives were no longer in their infancy stage or had been in existence for 15 years or more.

Tepid response

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The remaining 43 percent are those that needed protection. These are corporations that can easily decide to invest in other countries.

He said that the Department of Finance wanted to harmonize all incentives under one program, amend the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act and cut corporate income taxes.

The measure, however, has met a tepid response from senators who feared that the second package may also cause unanticipated problems like TRAIN 1, which is now blamed for a spike in inflation.

Sotto said he would let the Senate ways and means committee chair, Sen. Sonny Angara, decide how to treat the bill and would not ask Angara to make the bill a priority.

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TAGS: Dakila Carlo Cua, Rodrigo Duterte, tax reforms, Tito Sotto, TRAIN 2, Vicente Sotto III
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