By Chino S. Leyco
The Department of Finance (DOF) vowed to speed up the approval of the remaining tax reform packages of the Duterte administration along with other legislative proposals through better engagement with the members of the incoming Congress.
In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said yesterday that he ordered his officials to study ways to actively engaging lawmakers in understanding the importance of the comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP).
Dominguez said members, particularly the new ones, of the House of the Representatives and the Senate should be informed about the “untenability and adverse financial repercussions of certain legislative proposals.”
The DOF has came out with a new set of legislative priorities — including the CTRP — that they will propose to the incoming 18th Congress, which opens on July 22.
These legislative priorities include increasing tax collections by, among others, collecting the right amount of taxes from Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) and their foreign employees; ensuring that the Bureau of the Treasury is functioning well.
The DOF also wants to privatize idle state assets; collecting unpaid obligations due the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM); and further increasing the dividend contributions of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs).
Dominguez also instructed DOF officials to accelerate the full implementation of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and the fuel marking program, and to assist in the proper implementation of the rice tariffication law.
“We have to improve our engagement with the legislature, and we have to get it more organized. We have to get our tax reform packages passed by the end of this year,” Dominguez said.
The rest of the tax reform packages include Package 2, which aims to lower the corporate income tax (CIT) and modernize the fiscal incentives regie; Package 3, which institutes reforms in the property valuation system; and Package 4, which rationalizes capital income taxation.
Increasing the excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol products is among the components of Package 2 Plus, which was approved recently by the outgoing Congress. The other component is the bill that seeks to increase the government’s share from mining operations.
Dominguez also said finance officials should also fully explain to legislators why some bills, particularly those that aim to grant tax exemptions and other perks would prove to be ill-advised and fiscally unwise in the long run.
He also directed officials to study the feasibility of liberalizing imports of certain agricultural products such as sugar; the government’s plan to buy the stake of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) in the Philippine Dealing System Holdings Corp.
The privatization of the United Coconut Planters Bank; strengthening disaster-risk financing programs to help communities become climate-resilient; the future of the Al-Amanah Bank under a new Bangsamoro region; and the transfer of the Credit Information Corp. to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas are also being studied.
Finance Undersecretary and Chief Economist Gil Beltran also cited the Warehouse Receipts Bill as another priority measure to help expand the access of farmers to credit and improve the ease of doing business in the rural sector,
Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Lambino II, meanwhile, mentioned the completion and full implementation of the National Single Window (NSW) to facilitate trading and speed up the processing of regulatory requirements here and with the country’s neighbors in the region.