The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) on Monday expressed support for the government’s tax reform program, noting that a major overhaul of the country’s tax system is “ long overdue.”
“Philippine [businesses]and Filipino workers have long been overburdened with an outdated tax system that has made the country uncompetitive vis-a-vis its dynamic neighbors. So we express our support for the recommended reductions in personal income taxes, particularly for those earning less,” MAP said in a statement.
“We are pleased that the government has recognized the debilitating effects of [the]decades-long shortfall in government spending on infrastructure, which has led to an intolerable traffic situation today and a lack of support for agriculture and the rural sector, among others,” it added.
MAP said there was a need for the Department of Finance (DoF)-proposed level of additional taxes, as the government recently passed Republic Act 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, which provides free education to those in state universities and colleges.
The move is also on top of the recently approved free irrigation and increase in Social Security System (SSS) pensions.
“It is clear that greater revenues must be raised, beyond what the Senate version would currently allow. So we appeal to Congress to structure the bill allowing measures for the government to generate higher levels of resources,” MAP said.
The first package of the DoF’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, as contained in the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (Train), aims to lower personal income taxes, expand the coverage of value-added tax, raise excise taxes, and improve its administration.
Potential revenue from the DoF’s version of the program is estimated to reach P133.8 billion, which will be used to fund the Build Build Build program of the Duterte administration.
“We sympathize with the concerns of Congress about burdening the people with higher expenses, but believe that, in the main, the first package prepared by the DoF recognizes this. And that the net effect of lower personal taxes against slightly higher expenses elsewhere will be positive for the [majority]of Filipinos,” MAP said.
The association also said it fully supports the P6 liter tax on fuel as a gradual 3-2-1 peso annual increases over three years could be an “acceptable compromise,” given the timeframe for building infrastructure.
It added, however, that tax on sugary products should be based on the sugar content, not the liquid volume.
“The tax reform is a bold initiative that will serve us well. It will help establish a stronger foundation for the economic growth and social development of the country going forward,” the group said.