An estimated P1.4 trillion of infrastructure and development projects in the pipeline and game-changing reforms that will ensure a resilient economy long into the future make up President Duterte’s legacy to make the job easy for the next administration to sustain the Philippines’ growth momentum and continue improving the lives of Filipinos, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has said.
By the time President Rodrigo Duterte ends his term in 2022, Dominguez said the taxation system would be in a much better shape than when he first took over in 2016, owing to the Comprehensive Tax Reform Packages (CTRP) packages he had pushed to make the system simpler, fairer and more efficient while raising more funds for priority government programs.
“The revenue-generating agencies are going to be operating—firing in full—all cylinders,” said Dominguez, who as Finance chief is spearheading the Executive Department’s push for the approval of its remaining CTRP in the Congress.
The efforts of the Department of Finance (DOF), with the support of other government agencies, have resulted to the congressional approval in 2017 of the first package of the CTRP—the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN).
Starting 2018, this law has lowered personal income taxes (PIT) for 99 percent of wage earners–hence putting more spending money into their pockets, imposed a tax on unhealthy sweetened beverages, adjusted taxes on oil products and automobiles, expanded the value-added tax (VAT) base, and simplified estate and donor’s taxes.
At the same time, TRAIN has provided unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) to the country’s 10 million poorest households and fuel vouchers to public utility jeepney operators and drivers; exempted medicines for the treatment of diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension from VAT; and put in place a steady revenue source to fund the President’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” initiative and programs to improve education and healthcare.
Under this administration, Dominguez said taxes on “sin” products such as tobacco, alcohol, and electronic cigarettes have been increased substantially to augment funding for Universal Health Care (UHC) and discourage the consumption of these harmful products.
Such programs are in sync, said Dominguez, with President Duterte’s ultimate goal to improve the life of every Filipino on his watch.
Dominguez said the rest of the tax reform packages that aim to reform the corporate income tax (CIT) and fiscal incentives system, land valuation and the financial sector are expected to be approved this year.
On top of these key reforms, Dominguez also pointed out that from a project pipeline of only P50 billion in 2015, the Duterte administration would be able to leave its successor an impressive P1.4 trillion-worth of projects ready to be implemented.
“I think that’s a very important legacy of a President–to hand over something to his successor on a silver platter,” Dominguez said.
But he pointed out that two more administrations after this one need to exercise the same strong political will and decisive leadership as that of President Duterte’s to sustain the country’s economic and social gains and continue to effect real change for the Filipino people.
Dominguez pointed that the Philippines’ “economic performance and exemplary governance are reflected” in the President Duterte’s high approval ratings, as he cited the results of the most recent public opinion survey conducted by Pulse Asia, which showed the Chief Executive receiving an 87 percent approval rating—an unprecedented feat for a head of state during the second half of his or her term.