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Senate urged to approve tax bills

A CONGRESSMAN on Thursday urged the Senate to approve tax reforms passed by the House of Representatives that will benefit workers on top of proposed wage hikes.

“The [proposed] laws that we passed on tax reform and tax relief that are currently pending and have not been discussed by the Senate would help [improve the situation] of our workers,” Party-list Rep. Jude A. Acidre told a news briefing in Filipino.

Senators have yet to approve the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act (PIFITA), and the proposed Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) Act, which the lower chamber passed on third and final reading in 2022.

“We must not be limited to the legislated wage hike as a solution [to workers’ woes],” Mr. Acidre said.

The Senate Committee on Ways and Means is currently deliberating on its version of the PIFITA measure, which seeks to reduce and simplify tax rates on financial transactions.

The GUIDE bill proposes that the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) lend to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and those classified as strategically important companies (SICs).

The proposed military and uniformed personnel (MUP) pension reform measure, which the House passed in September last year, is still pending for second reading approval at the Senate.

In the House, Mr. Acidre mentioned that Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez has instructed them to prioritize the passage of wage proposals, with the House Committee on Labor set to deliberate on several wage hike proposals on Wednesday next week. Congressmen have filed separate measures seeking P150 and P750 wage increases.

On Monday, the Senate approved on third and final reading its proposed P100 across-the-board wage hike for private sector workers. The House of Representatives is also looking at a P350 to P400 wage hike, saying a P100 wage is not enough.

Economists have warned that a legislated wage increase could fan inflation as well as force some companies to lay off workers or even close down. “We don’t want to legislate something that would also cause people to lose their jobs,” Mr. Acidre said. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz

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