Fast-track tax reform bill, senators urged

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A tax expert and adviser of the Department of Finance on Wednesday urged senators to fast-track the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1408 or The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (Train) Bill because it is needed in the ‘Build Build Build’ flagship program of the Duterte administration.

Rene Diaz, a former congressman from Nueva Ecija and now chairman of the Center for Strategic Initiatives, said he is confident that administration senators will not think twice to support SB 1408 and called on their “patriotic spirits” to pass it at once so the Duterte development plans could be achieved soonest.

“Aside from reducing the burden from the middle class, the majority of Filipino workers, the poor people will benefit more because more opportunities await them like available jobs,” Diaz told a forum in Malate, Manila.

When asked about those to be affected by the tax reform package, he identified companies engaged in oil, car and soft-drink making.


To finance the ‘Build Build Build’ projects, Diaz said, the government could not just rely on official development assistance or ODA and loans from countries like China and Japan, among others.

“It is very critical to assure our world creditors that we have money to pay them back,” he added.

‘Build Build Build’ projects are mostly transport programs that will entail building railway systems, additional roads and ports.

“We cannot implement these projects by just borrowing, we need cash money to make them rolling,” according to Diaz, who, during his stint in Congress, was the principal author of the Tax Reform Act of 1997, the mother legislation of the Train bill.

He said the Senate must pass House Bill 1408 by October before the two Houses of Congress deliberate on the 2018 budget.

“The majority senators have enough numbers to pass the bill, so we expect them to pass it without difficulty. Of course, there will be lobbyists from these big companies, but the patriotic spirits of our senators must prevail,” Diaz added.

He said the Finance department must conduct more roadshows and media briefings to explain to the public the benefits of the Train bill.

Diaz urged people who are hooked on social media to visit the Facebook account of the Department of Finance where the Duterte tax reform package is explained in detail.

He also urged the department to empower the Bureau of Internal Revenue to have access to computer systems of major retailers to identify where their vessels are coming and where their goods are delivered.

“In this way, we can track their goods and we will know exactly how to tax them,” Diaz said.

He is proposing other ways to raise revenues from the sale of the 400-hectare New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City and transferring it to the 33,000-hectare Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija.

The sale will generate at least P200 billion, Diaz said.

He is supporting the granting of tax compromise to tax cheats like smugglers, saying filing cases against them in court takes decades and with most cases finding the accused innocent in the end.

Diaz wants other government-owned vast tracts of lands for sale like Boystown in Marikina City and National Mental Hospital in Mandaluyong City, among others.

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