MANILA (UPDATED) -- President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday tax reform would push through, adding the initiative was "incorrectly" blamed for rising consumer prices.
The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN has generated much needed revenue to fund government projects, Duterte said in his third State of the Nation Address.
The first tranche of TRAIN took effect on January 1, 2018, raising duties on sugar-sweetened drinks, fuel and cars.
To those who are "irresponsibly" suggesting that TRAIN be suspended," Duterte said: "We cannot and should not."
“We need this for sustainable growth that leaves no Filipino left behind,” Duterte said.
“TRAIN is already helping poor families and senior citizens cope with rising prices. We have distributed unconditional cash transfers to 4 million people, and we will help 6 million more this year.”
Finance Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino earlier said the P200 cash grant was "designed" to mitigate the projected 0.7-percentage point increase in consumer prices due to the TRAIN, even as critics deem the amount measly.
‘DON’T IGNORE TRAIN 2’
The President also urged Congress to pass the second tranche of reforms, aimed at rationalizing corporate taxes.
He said he hoped to sign the second tranche into law before the end of the year, urging Congress to “pass it in a form that satisfies our goals and serves the interests of the many, not just the wealthy few.”
“Package 2 will lower corporate income taxes, especially for our small businesses. Lower taxes mean they will have more money to invest and create more jobs,” Duterte said.
He noted that more than 99 percent of businesses in the Philippines are micro, small, or medium enterprises (MSME) and employ around 65 percent of the country’s workers.
“The enactment of the Package 2 is what stands between today and millions of jobs in the near future,” Duterte said.
“This matter is urgent. Do not be part of the problem by ignoring it.”
Duterte said by the end of July 2018, all 5 packages of his tax reform program would have been submitted to Congress.