The Department of Finance (DOF) has welcomed the endorsement by the Senate ways and means committee for plenary approval of Senate Bill No. 1592, its version of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), with DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III lauding the panel for its prompt action and hoping that the Congress could soon pass its final version in time for this initial tax reform package’s planned implementation by January next year.
Dominguez thanked the committee chaired by Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara for its “patience and commitment” to President Duterte’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), and said the DOF was “looking forward” to working with this panel in coming up with a measure that would “deliver the most benefits to the Filipino people at the soonest possible time”.
The finance secretary said that with the Angara committee’s approval of SB 1592, the DOF expects the Senate to pass this bill before the Congress goes on recess in mid-October, thereby enabling the bicameral conference committee to likely hammer out by November a final congressional version of the TRAIN, which President Duterte could then sign into law by mid-December.
This hoped-for schedule would let the government implement the TRAIN by January next year, he said.
“The DOF welcomes the filing of SB 1592 or the TRAIN,” said Dominguez in a statement issued after Angara delivered on the Senate floor his committee’s sponsorship of this first CTRP package. “This bill is the culmination of 19 hearings and three (3) technical working groups meetings held over the last nine (9) months.”
“We respect the noble intention of the senators to amend the DOF proposal based on their learned judgment and after due consultation with stakeholders,” Dominguez said. “In the coming weeks, this democratic process continues as the Senate debates the tax reform at the plenary level and as the bicameral conference reconciles the House and Senate versions.”
He said, “We hope the Senate will pass the TRAIN on 3rd reading before going into recess in mid-October, the bicameral conference to conclude in November, and the President to sign the bill into law by December 15, 2017. This schedule will allow us to implement the tax reform on January 1, 2018, so that the benefits of the reform can be felt at the soonest possible time.”
“We thank the Senate ways and means committee chaired by Senator Angara for its patience and commitment to the tax reform. We look forward to working with them in the Senate plenary to finalize the TRAIN bill in a form that will bring the most benefit to the people while ensuring fiscal responsibility,” he said.
The House of Representatives approved its version of the TRAIN—House Bill No. 5636—last May 31 by a vote of 246-9 with one abstention.
In his sponsorship speech, Angara said, “It simplifies the tax code to create the environment to expand the tax base and make payments easier.”
Angara thanked in his speech all those who have helped the Committee come up with SB 1592, including President Duterte and the DOF led by Secretary Dominguez and Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua.
“We’d like to start with the President, of course, for heeding the call of our people, and as early as the campaign, making tax reform a priority of his administration,” Angara said.
“We thank the DOF for assiduously studying the different possibilities—Secretary Dominguez, and especially Undersecretary Karl Chua, who patiently answered concerns and queries during the committee hearings,” he said.
“We thank the good men and women of his (Duterte) cabinet,” he said. “With us is Secretary Ernie Pernia. Earlier here was Secretary Bebot Bello. And we thank the agencies who sat through many tedious hearings.”
“It is time for tax reform. It’s time to give them back more purchasing power. It’s time to give our workers and their families what is due them,” the senator said.
Said Angara: “In short, TRAIN will help build not only the country’s physical infrastructure but also its human infrastructure. Better roads, highways, bridges, seaports, airports, and railways will attract more investments and lead to better industries. And when the poor have access to education, healthcare, and social services, they gain better opportunities, leading to better incomes for their families.”
“That’s why we endeavored to listen to the people, aggregate all their different views and concerns regarding taxation, and come up with a measure that is for their widest benefit. Your committee conducted 19 public hearings many taking as long as 5 to 6 hours, 2 TWGs (Technical Working Group meetings), 3 consultative meetings, and 3 workshops,” he added.
Angara said that “If we invest heavily, in our young people today, a generation from now, we will see more Filipino families leading comfortable and healthy and prosperous lives with better opportunities for their children, and their children’s children. The TRAIN is one of the crucial policy decisions we can make to move our country and our people forward.
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