Pernia to public: Convince Congress to pass tax reform bill

NEDA chief Ernesto Pernia is appealing to the public to support the Duterte administration in urging Congress to pass the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) to fund not only hard infrastructure but also soft infrastructure, human infrastructure, human capital, education and health.

Failure to pass the CTRP would impact on the government thrust to improve the country’s infrastructure which in the long term could benefit the economy, Pernia said in a press briefing in Malacanang on Tuesday, May 30.

“We have ought to realize that and people should rally with the administration to motivate, to urge Congress to pass the bill. Especially, of course, the first package and the subsequent packages have to be passed,” Pernia said.

Pernia said President Duterte has suggested to Congress that the CTRP is a priority bill and should be passed immediately before lawmakers go on recess this week.

“And that is quite understandable because the CTRP and the PDP (Philippine Development Plan) are actually natural intimate bedfellows,” Pernia stressed.

The first major development point under the Duterte administration is socioeconomic agenda and the other one is reforming the tax system, according to Pernia.

“So that is why the President has decided to direct or to admonish Congress that it is an urgent measure. The PDP has already passed, has been approved and it’s going to be launched on Friday,” he explained adding that the tax reform program has to be passed, at least the first package.

Explaining CTRP, Pernia said that based on NEDA analysis, CTRP’s implementation will result to higher real GDP level between 0.6 percent and 1.1 percent by 2022.

Without CTRP, on the other hand, the GDP level will be lower between 0.5 percent and 1.1 percent by 2022.

The CTRP is needed to increase the fiscal space of the government so that its aggressive infrastructure program as well as human capital investment program, education and health can be funded, he said.

“So the dual objective therefore is improving equity which is pretty bad across households as well as generating funds for infrastructure development, both hard infrastructure and soft infrastructure,” Pernia stressed.

Highlighting NEDA’s position, he said that in reforming the tax structure, the government will need to recognize equity considerations alongside those of revenue generation and efficiency, broadening the tax base, and simplifying the tax system.

These will raise the needed revenues while progressive schedule will promote equity, he said.

Benefit to health sector

CTRP’s passage is also a win for health sector since it will provide additional resources for the government to leverage in scaling up multi-sector wide public policy interventions to prevent the risk factors for non-communicable diseases, Health Undersecretary Lilibeth David said during the same press briefing.

It also means an increase on the breadth and depth of PhilHealth coverage through substantial services covered and the support value provided by the National Health Insurance Program.

More health workers can be hired to work on the ground, she said noting that the tax reform program could also enhance the country’s public health facilities, she added.

Palace calls on Marawi terrorists to surrender

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella reported in the same press briefing on the ongoing military operations in Marawi City, saying precision airstrikes have been judiciously used to prevent collateral damage and employ the specific targets of resistance to protect our troops and to hasten clearing of the city of terrorist elements.

“We call on the remaining terrorists to surrender while there is an opportunity,” he said hoping to immediately end the weeklong crisis.

So far, there are 560 civilians who were rescued.

Citing data from the DOH, he said that to date, there have been 12,509 families or 59,665 persons displaced in Regions 10 and ARMM.

“Of which, 1,018 families or 4,278 persons are still staying in 14 evacuation centers or 10,974 families or 54,870 persons are staying outside the evacuation centers with their relatives or friends,”he said.###PND