No comfy ride for Duterte’s TRAIN
Not much retort or dissent have been heard about the impending implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) which according to the government is considered as the “Duterte Express to Development” when it only has less than a week before it will officially commence on the first day of 2018.
It could be that the majority of the Filipinos have not yet realized the effect of the new tax scheme to the buying public or simply the Duterte magic is still effective that the public tend to follow hock line and sinker whatever their patron introduces.
Another reason for the silence is that the administration’s mouthpiece, the official and the trolls might have done a great job in packaging the new tax scheme making it appear to be pro-poor because at a glance it promises increased take home to the majority of the labor force through income tax exemption.
What maybe proclaimed by the Duterte administration as a bailout to poverty might end up to be an additional yoke to the millions of poor Filipinos because what supposed to be a tax reform to unburden the poor may actually result in more spending because additional taxes are imposed on products primarily used by the poor.
If you look closely into the TRAIN, it is incomprehensible how the poverty-stricken Filipinos can benefit from the new tax schemes when the imposition has a direct impact on the prices of fuel, especially on diesel and sugar-sweetened beverages consumed by most low-income earners.
The new tax scheme is simply a pseudo charity wherein the public are made to believe that they are given a relief in their taxes but they are also being taxed higher in the commodities that they are consuming on a daily basis.
Experience has taught us that any increase in the price of fuel products, especially on diesel will cause a domino effect on transport cost and inflate the prices of almost all commodities that are produced using fuel.
The new tax scheme sounds and appears logical because it is designed to exempt low-income earners from taxation and imposed a higher levy on those who earn high, but it failed to consider that the rich have several mechanisms to cushion the impact of higher taxes while the poor are already suffering from high cost of commodities.
TRAIN will benefit those who are gainfully employed but how about those surviving in the underground economy that could not get any tax exemption but will have to endure the inflation brought about by the imposition of excise tax on fuel.
Duterte’s TRAIN could be metaphor to rescue the poor from their horrible experiences in the government-operated public transport system to include the PNR, MRT and LRT which don’t only bring discomfort but also put to risk the lives of commuting public but the question is if it could make the public comfortable under Duterte’s reign?
Taxation is always viewed as a burden unless the public is convinced that their money are spent appropriately and honestly in infrastructures and programs that would truly impact on the lives of the people.
A promise of better and high impact infrastructure projects to justify the imposition of new tax scheme is unacceptable because anything can happen to the funds collected especially that the Duterte administration has not yet proven itself on its anti-corruption program.
Although high impact infrastructure project is necessary for development, I believed that the public would be satisfied with whatever project there is through the wise and honest spending of government funds.
The Filipinos would not mind the imposition of new taxes as long as the government has proven itself to be trustworthy to keep and manage public funds and if the new scheme would truly increase the purchasing power of the people.
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