Duterte certifies tax reform bill as urgent: finance dept

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Paranaque, Metro Manila, Philippines May 24, 2017. Erik De Castro, Reuters

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday certified his tax reform bill as urgent, as the House of Representatives plenary prepared to deliberate on the measure, the Department of Finance said.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea relayed the certification in a letter to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the DOF said in a statement.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, in a memo to the President, said certifying the bill as urgent would help “ensure timely and full passage” before Congress adjourns on Friday.

“The benefits to be derived from this tax reform measure will sustainably finance the Government’s envisioned massive investments in infrastructure thereby encouraging economic activity and job creation, as well as fund the desired increase in the public budget for health, education and social programs to alleviate poverty,” Duterte said in a separate letter to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel.

Congress will reopen on July 24 after it adjourns on June 2.

Dominguez warned that the failure to pass the tax bill would have “dire consequences” on Duterte’s efforts to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

It could also lead to a downgrade of the country’s debt ratings, he said.

The key features of the bill, according to the DOF, include lower personal income tax rates, a flat rate of 6 percent for estate and donor’s taxes, removing some value added tax exemptions, a staggered increase in excise taxes for petroleum products, a 5-bracket excise tax structure for automobiles with a 2-year phase-in period for the adjustments and a P10 per liter tax on sweetened beverages



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