THE main authors of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) pending in Congress believe their combined proposals to convert the current tax system into a more progressive taxation will help unlock the full potential of the Philippine economy and ensure a brighter future for the country’s young Filipinos.
In a statement on Monday, the Department of Finance (DoF) said Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua of Quirino, who filed the first package of the CTRP as House Bill (HB) 4774 in the House of Representatives, sought the help of the business community and other sectors in generating widespread public support for the tax reform plan.
The reform package aims not only to lower personal income tax rates but also make the tax system simpler, fairer, equitable and more progressive through several policy and administrative reform measures.
Cua, who co-chairs the House ways and means committee, said tax reform will empower ordinary Filipinos to make quality choices in life: where to send their kids to school and how they would want to chart a future for themselves and their families.
House Committee on Ways and Means senior vice chair Rep. Joey Salceda of Albay also pitched in his support for the CTRP and said he trusts “the President and his team” to do well in implementing this tax reform program.
Salceda filed a separate tax administration reform measure—HB 4888—which complements Cua’s HB 4774. The congressman from Albay noted the proposed CTRP “is our best chance” of ensuring a stable future for the country’s next generations.
“I trust the President and his team to do well by this. If that trust is not there, I wouldn’t even put my name on it. So, this is our best chance and let’s give it our best shot. A little love for country, and that’s all we need,” Salceda said.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, the vice chairperson of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said the CTRP is a “work in progress.” The Senate will deliberate on it thoroughly to “make sure that the impact on our constituents will be worth it.”
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd has underscored the importance of public diplomacy to win popular support for the CTRP, by convincing ordinary Filipinos that an overhaul of the outdated tax system is the “key link” to “redeeming the country’s future.”
Dominguez noted previous secretaries and undersecretaries of the DOF have endorsed the tax reform package, along with multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank.
“It is the man-on-the-street we now need to win over. This man-on-the-street is susceptible to populist and free-rider arguments put forward by groups that oppose any and all reforms in taxation,” Dominguez said.
The CTRP, he said, will sustain the pace of growth at 7 percent or better, bring down the poverty rate to 14 percent in the medium-term and pave the way for the country to become a high-income economy by 2040.
“If we fail to raise the volume of revenues required for our economy to break out over the next few years, we will fail in everything else,” he said.