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Roxas opposes tax reduction proposal

PRESIDENTIAL candidate Manuel Roxas II said Monday he opposes proposals in Congress to lower income tax rates, echoing the views of President Benigno Aquino III, and signaling that Filipino workers who pay the highest taxes in Southeast Asia would get no relief under a Roxas administration

“It’s easy for us to grandstand, for us to say that we should not collect taxes, that taxes should be zeroed-in. But what are the programs that will be sacrificed?” Roxas said. “How many youths will not have their classrooms? How many of our countrymen will not benefit from PhilHealth? How many will be slashed from the 4Ps [the government’s dole program]?”

Roxas

“Having come from the legislature and the executive, I think it’s responsible to be always reviewing all taxes and all impositions of the government. But at the same time, we should weight in where do these taxes go? And what will be slashed if these will not continue,” Roxas added.

Despite a rising clamor from business and labor groups, the President has rejected calls to lower income tax rates, saying he is not convinced that doing so would benefit the majority of Filipinos.

In  testimony before the Senate, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan admitted that the country’s tax system is regressive, and that middle- and low-income groups bear the brunt of the cost of government.

Last week, 18 major business groups urged the President to reconsider his position, saying that reducing personal and corporate income tax rates would make the Philippine workforce and corporations more competitive with their Asean neighbors; broaden the tax base by encouraging tax compliance; and increase disposable income for domestic purchase of goods and services that, in turn, would increase the government tax take on consumption taxes.

The statement was supported by TMAP, most major international chambers of commerce, the Management Association of the Philippines, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines and the Makati Business Club.

Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo, who has filed a bill to lower tax rates, said revising tax brackets would help fixed-wage earners by increasing their take-home pay and encourage tax compliance.

The latest Pulse Asia Research Survey said Monday that inflation and improving workers’ pay are the most urgent national concerns among Filipinos.

The Ulat ng Bayan Survey showed 47 percent of respondents said inflation was most urgent, while 46 percent cited the need to improve workers’ pay.

A second cluster of national issues deemed urgent by Filipinos were corruption in government (39 percent), employment (36 percent), and poverty (35 percent).

The survey said four issues make up a third group of urgent national concerns—peace (21 percent), criminality (20 percent), rule of law (16 percent), and environmental destruction (15 percent).

Filipinos were least concerned about rapid population growth (9 percent), national territorial integrity (7 percent), charter change (4 percent), and terrorism (4 percent), the survey also said.

Across geographic areas and socio-economic classes, the only issues deemed urgent by majorities were workers’ pay (53 percent in Metro Manila), employment (51 percent in the Visayas), and inflation (53 percent in Mindanao and 52 percent in Class E).

The survey involved face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults from May 30 to June 5, 2015. The margin of error was ± 3 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

Pulse Asia said the respondents were asked to pick three issues from a list that they think the Aquino government should act on immediately. They were also told they can add other concerns not on the list.

Reacting to the survey, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said the government was exerting “maximum efforts” to preserve the purchasing power of the peso.

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