THE government can fund infrastructure projects even without raising fuel taxes, a lawmaker said on Sunday.
Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list made the assertion in opposing the Finance department’s proposed tax reform bill that imposes a P6 to P10 fuel tax per liter, which the government expects to yield P800 billion until 2022.
“The past administrations had no tax reform proposals but infrastructure projects had been implemented. To say there would be no infrastructure projects in the country unless this oppressive tax reform program is approved is tantamount to blackmail,” Zarate said in a statement.
Instead of raising taxes, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) should improve their collections, the lawmaker said. The BIR and BOC are under the Finance department.
Rep. Antonio Tinio of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers earlier said the planned tax hike on fuel should be scrapped from the tax reform bill that exempts three million employees earning P250,000 a year from paying income taxes.
Tinio said the Finance department had projected that 25 percent to 50 percent of revenues that would be generated from higher excise taxes on fuel would come from diesel.
“This proposal will actually impose taxes where currently there are none, in the case of kerosene, diesel, LPG, and bunker fuel. The Finance department has yet to explain to the public: What is its justification for introducing new taxes when the existing regime has seen it fit not to tax these products?” Tinio said.
House Deputy Minority Leader Jose Atienza of Buhay party-list, for his part, said the government should prioritize reducing personal income taxes from 32 percent to 25 percent and cut corporate income taxes from 30 percent to 25 percent instead of pushing for the death penalty bill.
“We [in the House]should take the cue from the Senate, which has categorically declared that while reducing income taxes is among their main concerns, the re-imposition of death sentences is not among their priorities,” Atienza, who is against the death penalty, said in a statement.
“Let us focus on passing measures that will have a positive effect. Tax cuts would put more money at the disposal of low-and middle-income families, and help drive household final consumption spending, thus creating greater demand for goods and services, and encouraging industries to expand capacity and increase hiring,” Atienza said.