Imee finds common cause with leftist lawmakers
They may have locked horns on the issues of human rights abuses and corruption, but militant lawmakers and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos have found a common cause: Stem the skyrocketing prices of basic goods.
The daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos on Friday echoed the call of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives for the immediate lifting of value-added taxes (VAT) on food products, fuel and electricity amid the country’s worsening economic shape.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, she said, could use his “persuasive powers” over the Bureau of Internal Revenue to suspend the collection of the 12-percent VAT even for just a year.
Temporary VAT lifting
“I am not asking for the impossible. Having been a governor and [a lawmaker], I am aware of what can be done as regards tax administration and collection,” Marcos said in a statement.
“The temporary lifting of the VAT on basic commodities will provide urgent [and] much-needed relief to Filipinos … The poor cannot wait for anti-inflation strategies that could take months to work. They need solutions now,” she said.
The Makabayan bloc of left-wing party-list lawmakers has been urging President Duterte to lift not only the collection of VAT, but also the imposition of excise tax on fuel products as mandated under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act.
But Malacañang on Friday expressed optimism that high inflation could be reversed soon, resulting in lower prices of goods.
“We are confident that a disinflationary trend, as per our economic managers, is about to begin and be felt by our countrymen this month,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
He said the government was also looking forward to seeing the results of several anti-inflation measures, including the streamlining of procedures in the importation of rice and other agricultural products, and the stabilization of prices and supplies of farm and fish products.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said the “regressive provisions” of the TRAIN law should be scrapped as it only triggered the nine-year-high inflation rate of 6.7 percent last month.
Excise tax removal
“The immediate removal of the excise tax provision should be one of the immediate concrete solutions to the economic crisis,” ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said.
To counter the potential loss in government revenues, Marcos said the Duterte administration should work for a 10-percent improvement in income tax collection and stem the budget underspending of several state agencies.
Marcos, who is seeking a Senate seat in next year’s midterm elections, claimed that such intervention could rake in P362 billion in revenues for the government, offsetting the revenue loss with the yearlong suspension of VAT collection.
“Filipinos cannot wait for global oil prices to go down. Prices are already too high for Filipinos living below the poverty line,” she said. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO
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