THE government should be prepared in helping thousands of workers that may be affected by the proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), a lawmaker said Sunday.
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chairman of the ways and means committee, said that while the tax reform package of the government could lead to bigger take-home for low-income workers, the government must also be ready provide livelihood to those who may lose their jobs as a result of the tax reform.
The proposed TRAIN seeks to impose higher excise tax on gasoline, impose excise tax on diesel and P10.00 excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
The House of Representatives passed its version of the TRAIN while the Senate was still deliberating on its version before Angara’s committee.
House Bill 5636 imposes a P10 excise tax on every liter of sugar-sweetened beverages, which include sweetened juice drinks, tea and coffee; all carbonated beverage with added sugar; flavored water; energy drinks; sports drinks; powdered drinks not classified as milk, juice, tea and coffee; cereal and grain beverages; and other non-alcoholic beverages that contain sugar.
During the hearing on Thursday, the Beverage Industry Association of the Philippines informed the Senate panel that around 130,000 jobs would be affected by the proposed excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
“The government must be prepared for the worst-case scenario, especially if the livelihood of the ordinary Filipino people is at stake,” Angara said.
According to Angara, employment assistance for workers who will be affected by the tax reform should be included in the earmarking provision of the TRAIN.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is currently providing emergency employment for workers laid off or terminated as a result of the closure of an establishment and for self-employed individuals who have lost their livelihood, including farmers and fishermen.
This is under the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) Program, where individuals receive salary equivalent to the prevailing minimum wage in the area or locality, and free skills training to prepare them for self or wage employment.
Angara insisted that the government must include employment assistance even if the Build, Build, Build, program was expected to generate 500,000 jobs annually.
The ambitious infrastructure program of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte will be partly funded by revenues from the proposed new taxes.
Angara is also pushing to have part of the incremental revenues of the proposed excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, estimated at P47 billion, used to develop and sustain feeding programs to address malnutrition, widen access to potable drinking water supply, and to expand Philhealth’s dialysis package. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA