Tax reform must fund free tuition, healthcare, transport system—Angara
The additional revenues set to be collected from the proposed tax reform measure must go to specific projects and programs such as free tuition and better healthcare, Senator Sonny Angara said on Thursday.
Angara said that the P134-billion revenue expected to be collected during the first year of implementation should fund the free college law, the expansion of Philhealth’s free dialysis coverage, and the improvement of public transportation system.
“We want to make this tax reform measure complete and more acceptable to the public by specifying in the bill where the revenues will go,” Angara said in a statement.
“Gawin nating mas klaro kung paano makikinabang ang taumbayan sa panukalang repormang ito. Sa ganitong paraan, mas mauunawaan lalo na ng ating pinakamahihirap na kababayan, kung paano sila matutulungan nito,” he added.
(Let’s make it clear how the people will benefit from this proposed measure so that people, especially the poor, will know how this can help them.)
The government can collect P134 billion during the first year of implementation of the proposed tax reform, according to Department of Finance’s estimates.
Angara earlier said that the earmarking provision under House Bill 5636 is “too general” as it states that 60 percent of the yearly incremental revenues of the excise tax on oil “shall be allocated proportionally, based on existing budget allocation, for infrastructure, health, education, housing and social protection expenditures.”
Quoting data from the Commission on Higher Education, Angara said the government needs about P20 billion to implement the free college law. Of the amount, P16.8 billion will go to state and local universities and colleges, and P3 billion for tech-voc institutions.
“Kakapasa lamang po ng free college law at sabi nga ng ating economic managers, hirap silang humanap ng pondo para dito. Kaya mainam po sana na ang bagong buwis na makokolekta ay mapunta sa libreng edukasyon upang masustena ang implementasyon nito,” Angara said.
(The free college law has just been passed and our economic managers said they still have to look for items to fund this. It is better when the new tax that will be collected will go to free education to sustain its implementation.)
Angara also stressed that incremental revenues of the proposed increase in the excise tax of automobiles, which is estimated at P14 billion, should be specifically allocated to projects that would improve the country’s public transport system especially the LRT and MRT.
Meanwhile, the senator said part of the incremental revenues of the proposed excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, estimated at P47 billion, should go to Philhealth to expand the beneficiaries of its dialysis package.
“Sa dagdag na pondo na ito, hindi lamang indigent patients kundi pati mga ordinaryong Pilipino ay maaari nang makinabang sa libreng dialysis (With this additional fund, both indigent patients and ordinary families will benefit from free dialysis),” he said.
The PhilHealth estimates that the government spends about P8 billion annually for hemodialysis to treat diabetes and hypertension for indigent patients. JE
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