Gov’t underscores need for tax reform

The head of the Duterte administration’s economic team yesterday sought private sector support for the comprehensive tax reform program to fund the ambitious infrastructure buildup plan as well as other socioeconomic programs aimed at slashing poverty.

At the Philippine Development Forum: Sulong Pilipinas 2017, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III also pointed to “substantial” progress in as far as the implementation of the 10-point socioeconomic agenda and the private sector’s recommendations during the first Sulong forum held in June last year, or before President Duterte assumed the presidency.

“The economic program of this administration aspires to achieve a regime of high growth. Our economic policies seek to make that growth more inclusive in the next few years as we enable our economy to be investments-led. By the end of this administration, we expect to bring down poverty incidence to just 14 percent,” Dominguez said in a speech.

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For Dominguez, “fiscal policy is an important tool for achieving the economic growth we envision,” stressing the importance of passing the proposed comprehensive tax reform package.

“The reform package seeks to bring down corporate and personal tax rates closer to the regional average. This will help us build a strong middle class, encourage investments into our economy and put more disposable income in the pockets of wage earners,” Dominguez said.

Tax reform will likewise help support the infrastructure program the country direly needed to keep pace with its neighbors, improve efficiency in the movement of goods and people and prepare the economy to thrive in a more competitive setting, the finance chief added.

As such, Dominguez called on businessmen to help in pushing the tax reform package forward.

“The tax reform package is necessary to build 113,553 classrooms for our children and hire 181,980 more teachers. This will help us change national gravel roads, irrigate 1.3 million hectares of agricultural land and provide road access for 7,894 isolated barangays and 23,293 isolated sitios. It will enable us to upgrade 704 hospitals and establish 25 new ones, achieve 100-percent PhilHealth coverage with higher quality services, upgrade 263 rural and urban health units to disaster-resilient facilities and hire an additional 176,922 health professionals,” Dominguez said.

“The tax reform package will help fund the socioeconomic programs of government, including the targeted cash transfers, pantawid pasada, pantawid kuryente, and the PUV modernization program as well as the national ID system,” Dominguez added. “Of all these, tax reform will enable government to undertake a massive infra program amounting to 7.4 percent of gross domestic product without breaking the limits of fiscal discipline.”

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