MANILA - The Senate will soon conclude its scrutiny of the administration's tax reform proposal and finalize its own version of one of President Rodrigo Duterte's legislative priorities, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said Tuesday.
The first package of the reform proposal seeks higher taxes on fuel and cars to offset a planned reduction in personal income taxes. It also aims to boost government's plan to build P8 trillion in new infrastructure.
"Kaunting pag-aaral na lang, magkakaroon na ng Senate version, at kung 'yan ang pumasa, we will now have a bicam (bicameral) with the House kung meron kaming malaking diperensya," Pimentel told radio DZMM.
The House of Representatives passed its own version in May. The Department of Finance earlier said this version would yield P133 billion in tax revenues, lower than the P157 billion in its proposal.
Pimentel, who authored the Senate version, said parts on the excise tax on fuel, non-luxury vehicles, and taxes on sugary drinks and products remain contentious among senators.
He is positive, however, that the Senate has enough time to iron these out.
In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, Duterte asked the Senate to approve his tax reform package "in full."
"These reforms are designed to be pro-poor, especially when the people understand how the revenue will be spent," he said in his speech.
Pimentel said the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, helmed by Sen. Sonny Angara, will hold only about 5 hearings on the proposal before coming up with a recommendation.
"He will come up with the recommendation by end of August. Then, dahil certified bill naman ito, by September or October, may desisyon na ang Senado diyan," he said.
Pimentel then called on critics of the measure to attend the last few public hearings to air their grievances and propose amendments, which may still be included in the Senate version.