Drilon rejects plan to impose new taxes in coming years
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said he will reject any plan to impose new taxes in the coming years, stressing it would inflict added burden to Filipinos already struggling amid the pandemic.
“We will oppose it. We are still grappling with the impact of the pandemic today and we do not see our country to begin recovery until the third quarter of 2021 for them to talk about raising and imposing new taxes by next year,” Drilon said in a statement.
The senator said raising or imposing new taxes next year will be “counterproductive.”
“It will only be an added burden to Filipinos and businesses who are striving hard to get back on their feet,” he added.
Drilon pointed out that there are still 90,000 business establishments closed, the majority of which are micro, small, and medium enterprises.
“[Some] 7.3 million Filipinos who lost jobs to the pandemic, and [7.6] million families who are hungry,” he added.
In a Senate budget hearing last week, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told lawmakers that they will start looking at additional revenues by late 2021 or early 2022 to pay for the heavy indebtedness the country incurred during the pandemic.
The government’s foreign borrowings due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) stands at $9.9 billion to date, Drilon noted.
Sell assets, privatize gaming industry
Drilon reiterated that the government can generate money to repay its growing debt obligations by disposing of public assets such as Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame.
“Rather than talk about new taxes, the government can generate funds to pay our debts through the long-overdue sale of government assets and privatization of the gaming industry,” he said.
He noted that President Rodrigo Duterte himself earlier raised the possibility of selling government properties “as a last resort” to generate funds to combat the pandemic, citing the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Philippine International Convention Center.
“Why resort to raising taxes when we can generate funds by selling government properties and privatizing the gaming industry?” Drilon stressed.
Further, he said the privatization of the gaming industry can yield billions of pesos.
He recalled estimates made by the finance secretary that privatizing the gaming industry can yield around P300 billion in additional revenues yearly.
Drilon said that under the GOCC (government-owned and controlled corporations) Governance Act, the President is allowed to amend the charter of state-owned corporations, including the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, without needing to go to Congress.
“We must put more money in people’s pockets, not take their hard-earned money by raising taxes,” the minority leader said.
“A tax hike or a new tax will further hurt the people and the businesses during this extraordinary time in our history as a nation,” he added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.