SENATE President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said on Sunday the chamber was eyeing the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) bill on third and final reading before Congress goes on recess on October 11.
The tax reform bill has reached the Senate plenary after it was sponsored by Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chairman of the Senate ways and means committee, on September 20.
“That is exactly the deadline. Pass the Train bill before going on break,” Pimentel said in a text message when asked if the Senate intends to approve the tax reform bill before Congress goes on a recess.
President Rodrigo Duterte had certified the tax measure as urgent, and the House of Representatives approved it on final reading in May.
The measure contains the first package of the Duterte administration’s tax reform program. It lowers personal income tax and expands the value-added tax base for the government to raise funds for its ambitious “Build, Build Build” infrastructure program.
Under the Senate version of the bill, employees with annual gross income of up to P150,000 will be exempted from tax.
The proposal, Angara said, was in line with the President’s campaign promise to exempt workers earning P25,000 and below monthly from income tax.
About 7.5 million individual income taxpayers are expected to benefit from lower income tax rates.
The Senate version also seeks to impose a lower excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, but a P6 per liter excise tax will be implemented on cooking gas (liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene).
Pimentel also said Congress was planning to convene the bicameral conference committee on the Train bill during the break.
In a text message, Angara expressed optimism lawmakers would be able to meet the target deadline noting that many have lined up for internpellation..
“We are hoping for the best and we are available everyday for interpellations by our colleagues even till late in the evenings to facilitate passage,” Angara added.
After the period of interpellation, they will proceed to the period of individual amendments. The bill will then be approved on second reading and scheduled for the third and final reading.
Angara said six to seven senators have expressed their intent to interpellate him on the tax reform bill.