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Compared to the House’s version, the Senate bill introduced lower taxes for sugar-sweetened beverages except those that use high fructose corn syrup which shall be slapped with higher taxes.Drilon also cited contentious provisions in the Senate and House versions of the TRAIN bill imposing higher tax rates on automobiles, sugar-sweetened beverages as well as conflicting provisions on value added tax (VAT) zero rating and lifting of VAT exemptions on senior citizens, among others.Dominguez expressed hopes that both chambers could wrap up bicameral deliberations on the first of the government’s five tax reform packages in time for the submission of the final version to President Duterte by December–so that a new law to this effect could be signed and implemented as scheduled by January 2018.Dominguez said “the Senate’s timely approval of its TRAIN version moves the government one big step closer to overhauling the tax system for the first time in two decades with the primary benefit going to 99 percent of the country’s taxpayers who are to get higher take-home pay as a result of substantial cuts in their personal income tax rates or–better yet–outright exemption from income taxation.” “We thank the Senate for its vote on its version of the tax reform bill.The Senate began conducting plenary debates on the revised measure, SB 1592, on Nov.22 and finally approved it with substantial amendments last Nov. Dominguez earlier said that, “To sustainably finance these massive investments in infrastructure and in the people, tax policy reform will be crucial alongside tax administration and budget reforms.” “The tax reform bill seeks to achieve a simpler, fairer, and more efficient tax system characterized by lower rates and a broader base, to encourage investment, job creation, and poverty reduction,” Dominguez said.This House version was finally approved by the House before the adjournment of the first regular session of the 17th Congress last May.The Senate panel began the deliberations on the TRAIN, which was filed in the chamber by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III as Senate Bill (SB) 1408, last March 22.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that merchandise exports fell to .6 billion, also in October, from .1 billion a year ago. Benjamin Diokno of the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics (UPSE) said that, with a weakening world economy, it would be hard to think of a scenario where the country’s year-to-date exports decline of 6.2 percent would be reversed.
The minority leader said deliberations in the bicameral conference level will prove to be the real battleground for its passage due to numerous disagreeing provisions between the Senate and lower house’ versions of the bill. The TRAIN is headed into a tough battle in the bicam,” Drilon said as he raised concerns about the effects of the tax reform package to the poor, particularly with the proposed additional taxes on petroleum products.
“With the reduced earmarking for social mitigating measures, it is not certain how the poor can cope with the increase in the price of fuel and with it, of other commodities,” he added.
Drilon said senators likewise approved “a 3,000 per cent increase in coal taxes” to be collected in three tranches until 2020, which means the currently imposed P10 excise tax will be raised to P100 in 2018, P200 in 2019 and P300 by 2010.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government is now one big step closer to reforming the country’s tax system for the first time in over two decades–and providing a steady revenue stream to its ambitious infrastructure buildup–with the Senate’s approval of its Train version.