By Charmaine A. Tadalan, November 8 2018; Business World


Image Credit to Philippine Star

SENATE Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said the Department of Finance (DoF) needs to focus on tax measures that will have minimal inflationary impact.

“I think we should sustain the momentum in containing inflation before we tackle another tax proposal that would scare investors or cause investors to pull out,” Mr. Zubiri said in a briefing on Thursday.

The remarks come after Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said that the second package of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) is not among the priority measures of the chamber in the 17th Congress, which ends on June 7.

Mr. Zubiri proposed to put off Package 2, which will cut corporate income tax rates and streamline incentives, and instead pass other packages of the CTRP.

“We are appealing to the Department of Finance to study first this measure. We can pass the other measures like TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) 3 and 4 that are not inflationary,” he said.

Package 3 of the CTRP seeks to centralize valuation and assessment of real properties; while Package 4 will simplify capital income and financial intermediary taxation.

The senator also cited Package 1B, the General Tax Amnesty bill, which is pending second reading in the Senate and is set to be introduced to the plenary at the House of Representatives when it resumes session on Nov. 12.

Sought for comment, Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said is a separate press briefing the “first thing I’ll do next week is to approach them to see how much we can move it together,” referring to Senators Sotto and Zubiri.

Despite the lack of support, Mr. Chua remained positive the enactment of the second package still stands a chance within the 17th Congress.

“This year I think it’s very difficult, but I think within this Congress the chances are still good,” he said.

He noted that while he does not see the measure hurdling Senate by year’s end, he hopes it can at least get approval at the committee level.

“It would be good if it passes out of committee this year, which I would consider good progress,” he said.

Mr. Chua said concerns of the business sector over uncertainty brought about by the tax measure are due to its progress through the legislature rather than the bill’s contents.

“A lot of investors are waiting for this bill to pass and that is for them the number one uncertainty; it’s not the contents of the bill. It’s just that if it is not passed, they do not know what the final incentive package will be,” he said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan