THE Department of Finance (DoF) on Wednesday said it is still hoping to pass measures raising the excise tax on tobacco and alcohol products before Congress goes on break in early February for the May 13 midterm elections, adding that it will be “re-filing” the other remaining tax reform packages.
“Based on our own assessment, based on how things are moving, it looks like we might be able to pass package 2+,” Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito G. Lambino II said in a briefing at the Palace.
Package 2+ of the Comprehensive Tax Program (CTRP) will further increase the excise tax on both alcohol and tobacco products beginning 2020 in order to provide additional fund to the Universal Health Care (UHC) program.
“As for the rest they could move forward although we are also open to re-filing the other packages in the next Congress,” Mr. Lambino added, referring to the lowering of the corporate income tax rate from 30% to 25% for a large majority of businesses and modernizing fiscal incentives; Package 3, which will broaden the tax base used for property and property-related taxes of the national and local governments; and Package 4, which covers capital income and financial taxes.
The Senate said the Package 1B or the Tax Amnesty Bill, which it ratified in December last year, has been transmitted to the Palace and is currently awaiting President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signature.
Asked for an update about the Tax Amnesty Bill during the briefing, Mr. Lambino said: “We were told that it’s being reviewed by the Office of the President.”
On Package 2+, he said: “We are very hopeful for Package 2+. Of course we see the comprehensive tax reform program as all of the packages together. But what we have seen is, the President has agreed to certify as urgent the substitute bill that comes out of the Senate — the committee report that comes out of the Senate of alcohol and tobacco excise tax increases to fund universal health care fully in 2019.”
“There is an allocation in the proposed budget of around P217 billion to implement Universal Health care. The financing gap there is P40 billion and to bridge that we need package 2+ of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program,” he said.
“At the hearing yesterday, many doctors spoke up in support of the program of the proposal and others are scheduled to speak in upcoming hearings. So, the legislative process is moving forward and of course we are here to support our legislators in any information and analysis they need. The champions of these measures are Senators (Emmanuel D.) Pacquiao, (Joseph Victor G.) Ejercito and (Sherwin T.) Gatchalian,” he added. — Arjay L. Balinbin