‘Trabaho’ bill hangs till jobs data finished; TRAIN review set

October 18, 2018 at 10:26

‘Trabaho’ bill hangs till jobs data finished; TRAIN review set

UNTIL the study on its labor impact is completed, all discussions about the next-round reforms in the comprehensive tax package, as embodied in the so-called Trabaho bill, are suspended, the head of the Senate Ways and Means Committee said on Wednesday.

At the same time, Sen. Juan Edgardo M.  Angara said, the panel is taking advantage of the extended congressional recess to fully assess legislative options to update the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, which took effect on January 1, 2018 and is the first of the serial reforms.

The Senate shelved all talk about the Trabaho bill—for Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-Quality Opportunities—because, Angara said, they are still waiting for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to submit its impact assessment of the measure before they tackle it again next month.

Congress is on recess until November 12.

The DOLE had asked for additional time to complete the report since it is still consulting industry organizations and employer groups to be affected by Trabaho bill. The measure aims to adjust the existing rates of tax incentives to attract more investors in the country, but critics—including the past and present chiefs of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza)—have warned it will drive them away because it removes key incentives that the government has committed to grant when it lured the businesses to come in.

“The DOLE still has yet to submit [their study on the jobs impact]. We are still waiting for it, since they said they have an economic mode for job loss,” Angara told the BusinessMirror in an ambush interview on Wednesday when he filed his certificate of candidacy (COC).

He said the general mood in the Senate “is to wait and see because it might cause high inflation. A situation where you have high inflation and unemployment is a worst-case scenario,” he added.

The Department of Finance (DOF) earlier said it already submitted its forecast on the effects of the Trabaho bill.

Angara  said the Senate will take a look at it when it resumes its sessions on November 12.

Meanwhile, Angara indicated on Wednesday they will work on the TRAIN law review during the session break. He was asked if the panel willl still pursue plenary action on the congressional joint resolution suspending the higher excise tax under the TRAIN law and mandating a rollback of the fuel levy to December 30, 2017, rates.

“There are no plenary sessions until November 11 so lots of time to chart and discuss best course of action with the Senate leadership,” Angara told the BusinessMirror.

At least 17 Majority senators wrote a letter to President Duterte on October 9 endorsing suspension of the scheduled fuel tax increases in the TRAIN law. Minority senators, on the other hand, pressed for a fuel price rollback to December 2017 rates before the TRAIN law took effect.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to resume regular sessions from November 12 to December 14, before adjourning anew for their traditional year-end Christmas recess from December 15 to January 13, 2019.

Angara’s advocacies

Angara said he will be seeking his second term during the 2019 polls to continue his advocacy of passing legislation to promote the rights of senior citizens, health issues and employment.

The incumbent senator, who is running under the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), said he supports the tax reform of the administration.

However, like several other senators, he expressed concern over the impact of the TRAIN law on inflation, particularly its provision on higher excise tax for fuel.

As of September, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported inflation already reached 6.7 percent—the highest in the last nine years.

“We knew it [TRAIN] will affect inflation, we just did not expect it would be this big [on inflation] because the DOF told us it would only be 0.9 percent, not  6.8 percent,” Angara said.

“That is why we wrote to the President to suspend the [imposition of] the additional excise tax for 2019 because it will add another P2 to the prices of petroleum products,” he added.

The chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee also reiterated the request to Duterte to enforce the “remedial measures” under the TRAIN law to reduce its negative impact, especially on the poor.

These measures include the unconditional cash transfer for poor families given by the Department of Social Welfare and Development  and discounts on rice.

Source: https://businessmirror.com.ph/trabaho-bill-hangs-till-jobs-data-finished-train-review-set/

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