Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has sought the support of local manufacturers behind the Duterte administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), which, he said, would be a potent tool to encourage enterprise and boost domestic market demand, attract investors and improve the purchasing power of wage earners, and build an inclusive economy.
In a speech read for him by Finance Assistant Secretary Mark Dennis Joven, Dominguez also assured members of the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), which has long been partnering with the government in fighting smuggling, that the Department of Finance (DOF) will remain “relentless” in rebuilding the Bureau of Customs (BOC) so it can do a better job of weeding out official corruption, facilitating trade, and protecting both consumers and enterprises.
Dominguez commended the FPI led by Jesus Lim Arranza for its anti-smuggling advocacy as such a sustained industry effort helps Government shield consumers against substandard and hazardous products, guard enterprises from dumping and other unfair trade practices, and secure the country’s borders against illegal drugs.
“Clearly, much work still needs to be done to make this agency less vulnerable to corruption and more effective in its jobs of raising revenues for the government. We intend to do the work that needs to be done,” he said before a gathering of FPI members at the Century Park Hotel in Manila.
Dominguez said the government will start improving tax administration at the BOC by purchasing x-ray machines to aid in the swift inspection of cargo and by hiring more Customs personnel to boost the agency’s technical capabilities and alter its corporate culture.
On top of these measures, Dominguez said the government will also review procedures for the valuation of goods passing through the country’s ports and explore the possibility of privatizing certain aspects of the BOC’s functions.
“I will assure you today that we will be relentless in rebuilding the Bureau of Customs. We will be untiring not only in fighting corruption in this agency but also in reinventing it so that it better facilitates trade while protecting our consumers and our enterprises,” Dominguez said.
“This will not be an easy task. I will rely on your ardent collaboration. The cooperation between the Department of Finance and the FPI has been fruitful. It will be more so in the coming months,” he added.
While sustaining the campaign versus smuggling, Dominguez said the Duterte administration is also implementing programs to industrialize the economy, which would entail a massive infrastructure buildup that would, in turn, be sustained by a robust and steady revenue stream sourced from the CTRP.
The CTRP, he said, is ” not just about taxes, but also about increasing the purchasing power of wage earners and removing disincentives to foreign investors by way of lowering both personal and corporate income tax rates. ”
Dominguez said that “by reshaping our tax policies, we are boosting domestic market demand while encouraging enterprise. Tax policy becomes a tool for building an inclusive economy.”
“I seek the support of you, our local manufacturers, to help get the tax reform package through. This is the key link in the chain of economic programs aimed at helping our economy sustain its robust growth,” Dominguez said.
He said the government is building an efficient logistics system by investing heavily in modernizing the country’s infrastructure, which would help develop a competitive industrial base and create more of the quality jobs that only the manufacturing sector can deliver.
Aside from investing in infrastructure, the government is also putting in place measures to drastically cut red tape, develop the country’s capital markets, and maintain fiscal stability to attract long-term direct investments and build an industrializing economy, Dominguez said.
He likewise said that the government is spending heavily on education and health to develop a young, highly skilled and competitive workforce.
The infra program, which would cost around P9 trillion over the next five years, will not only strengthen the country’s logistics backbone but would also ensure its energy security over the long term, Dominguez said.
These initiatives are being implemented by the Duterte administration to realize its ultimate goal of maintaining a robust GDP growth rate of 7 percent so that the country can achieve upper middle – income status by 2022 and have a lower poverty rate of 14 percent by that time, Dominguez said.
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