Escudero: Gov’t must not resort to new, higher taxes to pay PH debt
MANILA, Philippines — Senatorial candidate Francis Escudero is urging the national government not to resort to imposing new and higher taxes to settle the country’s debts as Filipinos are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic.
Escudero made the remark after the Department of Finance (DOF) proposed new or higher taxes to pay for the foreign debts the Duterte administration incurred to address the COVID-19 crisis.
“It’s true that the government needs increased revenue but I do not believe this is the right time to impose new taxes or tax hikes because we are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic,” the incumbent Sorsogon governor said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Filipinos are only just beginning to regain their health and livelihoods—will the government make recovery harder for us than it already is? Hindi pa nga tayo nakakatayo, ibabaon na naman ba natin ang ating sarili sa mga bagong bayarin?” he added.
Among those being studied and considered by the DOF is the removal of all exemptions from 12-percent value-added tax payments, as well as further hikes of excise taxes on cigarettes, e-cigarettes, alcoholic drinks, and sugary beverages.
Escudero, however, pointed out that some 10 million senior citizens and 1.4 million persons with disability (PWDs) are benefitting from the VAT exemption.
“Kailangan natin magbayad ng utang pero huwag naman natin kuhain sa mga seniors, PWDs, mga naghihingalong exporters at iba pang mga VAT-exempt ang pambayad ng utang ng gobyerno,” he said.
(We need to pay our debts but not at the cost of our seniors, PWDs, and dying exporters who are exempted from paying VAT.)
“Mag-isip tayo ng paraan para matugunan ang ating responsibilidad ng hindi pinapahirapan ang mga tao (We should think of ways to respond to our responsibilities without being a burden to our countrymen),” he added.
Escudero, a two-term senator vying for a Senate return in the May 9 elections, said the government should instead consider selling its assets and maximizing public-private partnerships (PPP) to fund infrastructure development.
“There are ways to free up fiscal space for debt payments, instead of immediately looking at new taxes. PPP is the way to go,” he said.
“For the long term, the government should exert more effort into eliminating corruption, which is bleeding us P700 billion annually. That’s enough to build 1.4 million housing units,” he added.
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