MANILA — Senator Juan Edgardo Angara on Tuesday said that it is too early to say if the proposed tax reform program will be vetoed if the House version of the package would be “watered-down” by the Senate.
“It’s a bit early for that considering the Senate committee has yet to come up with a final version,” Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said in a press statement.
Angara made this remark after Department of Finance Secretary (DOF) Carlos Dominguez said that his agency is likely to recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the watered-down version of the program as it could derail the administration’s infrastructure programs.
He said the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program will be compromised if Congress will not pass the DOF version of the proposed tax reform package.
The senator said it is best for the DOF to “engage” with lawmakers stressing that majority of them wanted to help the administration’s programs, after all.
“We note that the administration has a number of remaining reform packages it wishes to push, and a good working relationship with the legislators would be key going forward,” Angara said.
During his second State of the Nation Address, President Duterte urged the Senate to pass the proposed comprehensive tax reform package “in full”.
Senators previously expressed their doubts to pass their version of the package citing several concerns such as the effect of petroleum taxes and excise taxes on poor sectors.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, however, revealed that the President has accepted that “flexibility” is needed on the part of the executive to ensure the passage of the proposed tax package.
Drilon said the President “left it to the good judgment” of the legislature and consultation with the DOF as to what is the appropriate tax structure to be passed.
The House of Representatives has already approved the first package with 246 votes that are in favor, nine against it, and one abstention last May 31.
The tax reform package seeks to lower personal income tax rates, expand the value-added tax base, raise excise taxes on petroleum and automobiles, impose an excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages and ease the rates of estate and donor’s taxes. (With reports from Ma. Angela Coloma-OJT/PNA)