MANILA, Philippines – Senator Bam Aquino on Thursday urged the government to fast-track the implementation of the cash transfer program to help poor Filipinos cope up with the anticipated rise in the prices of basic goods and services because of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.
“If we are really serious about making the TRAIN law positively impact the economy and to our fellow Filipinos, this program will help 10 million Filipinos – 10 million Filipino families should be in place at the soonest possible time,” Aquino said in mix Filipino and English during a television interview.
Aquino added that the only problem is the exact date of its implementation since the funds needed for the cash transfer program were already included in the 2018 national budget.
“Hopefully, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Finance (DOF) will speed up the process. I wish we should not wait longer for this program, they should implement it as fast as they can and as efficiently as possible,” the senator said.
Based on the recommendation by the DOF, the TRAIN law will provide a cash grant of P200 a month to poor families on the first year of implementation, and will increase to P300 for the second and third year to help cover the increase in prices of basic goods.
During the Senate deliberations on the law, Aquino lobbied for the immediate implementation of the financial assistance program to help poor Filipinos absorb the expected increase in the prices of goods and services.
However, Aquino’s proposal was not accepted, pushing him to vote against its ratification.
“Without a cash transfer program in place, poor Filipinos will bear the brunt of the increase in prices of goods and services due to the TRAIN,” Aquino said.
He even urged the government to be transparent in the selection and disbursement of the cash transfer program.
“Aside from ensuring that it will be implemented at the soonest possible time, the government must conduct its rollout without any political patronage or accommodation,” he added.
The TRAIN law exempts workers earning P250, 000 annually and below from paying the personal income tax. The measure also imposes new taxes on diesel, liquefied petroleum gas, kerosene, and bunker fuel for electricity generation, and higher taxes on other oil products, threatening the increases in transport fares, electricity costs, and consumer prices.