Ibon tells DOF: Show us the numbers on TRAIN
The economic think tank Ibon Foundation on Saturday challenged the Department of Finance (DOF) to be more transparent regarding the impact of the new tax reform law on ordinary Filipinos.
Ibon criticized the administration’s “downplaying” of the true effects of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, particularly on low-income families.
“We ask for something as simple as placing on their website the breakdown of the impact of the tax measure per income decile,” IBON executive director Sonny Africa told reporters. “These would be the impact in terms of income tax and of each tax measure — from oil products and even cosmetics.”
Africa said Ibon had only received “partial responses” from the DOF to their multiple requests for the estimates of the impact of the TRAIN law, while the House of Representatives ways and means committee provided only “old computations,” which were based on estimates before the measure was deliberated in Congress.
“The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) supposedly showed during the Senate hearings their estimates … but those original estimates and methodology were from 2016 to 2017,” he said. “When the deliberations began, they have stopped releasing their data.”
Ibon had denounced the newly implemented measure as “antipoor,” saying that it would benefit the rich more. Despite the reduced personal income taxes, the group said the majority of Filipinos would shoulder the burden of additional taxes on petroleum products and sweetened beverages, among others.
Africa also slammed DTI’s claims that the TRAIN law would have minimal to negligible impact on the public.
“Right now, the DOF makes quantitative statements that there is no effect, but they would raise revenues. But where would these come from?” he asked. “Revenues don’t fall from the sky. It comes from the people’s pockets.”
He recalled two previous instances when oil prices went up: in 1995-1996, when the oil excise tax was imposed, and in 2005, when the expanded value-added tax law was passed.
“In those two years, on the basis of one tax measure alone on oil products, inflation rates went up, as well as the prices of basic goods and services,” Africa said.
“It is unfair for the government to say that the TRAIN law would have no effect because if that’s the case, then the government would not raise any revenue,” he added.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier assuaged fears that the prices of basic commodities would soar under the new tax reform law.
Lopez said manufacturers could raise the “suggested retail price” of goods they produced as long as the increases were “justifiable,” but they were also expected to absorb the higher production costs resulting from the additional tax on fuel.
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