Senate urged to OK Train before Oct break

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The Senate should pass its version of the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) bill before Congress takes a break next month, the Finance department said on Friday, to allow for the final law’s implementation starting next year.

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The Train bill, which will lower personal income taxes in exchange for taxes on cars and fuel, among others, is up for plenary debate at the Senate. The House of Representatives passed its own version in May.

Session will be adjourned from October 14 to November 12 based on the 17th Congress’ legislative calendar. Lawmakers will go back to work from November 13 to December 15 before taking a break anew from December 16 to January 14 next year.

Final Senate approval before the October break “will allow us to implement the tax reform on January 1, 2018, so that the benefits of the reform can be felt at the soonest possible time,” the Finance department said.

Revenues from the proposed Train Act, which comprisies the the first package of the government’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, will be used to fund “Build Build Build!” infrastructure program.
“Train will help build not only the country’s physical infrastructure, but also its human infrastructure. Better roads, highways, bridges, seaports, airports and railways will attract more investments and lead to better industries. And when the poor have access to education, healthcare, and social services, they gain better opportunities, leading to better incomes for their families,” was and means committee chairman Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said in a sponsorship speech.

Senate Bill 1592, differs from the House’s Train proposal by revising the proposed implementation schedule of higher oil excise taxes and the phasing in of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, among others.

Differences between the two versions will be settled by a bicameral committee that will met once the Senate approves the final version of its tax reform proposal.

“We respect the noble intention of the senators to amend the DOF proposal based on their learned judgment and after due consultation with stakeholders,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said in a statement.

“In the coming weeks, this democratic process continues as the Senate debates the tax reform at the plenary level and as the bicameral conference reconciles the House and Senate versions,” Dominguez added.

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