MANILA—Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s strong prodding, chances of the second package of the administration's tax reform getting the Senate's approval is slim, Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri said Tuesday.
Package 2 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) aims to lower corporate income tax from 30% to 25% and modernize incentives in order to attract new and growing industries.
In his State of the Nation Address Monday, Duterte 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.
Zubiri said neither the minority nor majority bloc members have sponsored the President’s tax reform law.
He will not sponsor nor support it also, he added.
“Ninenerbyos na kami dito sa mga TRAIN na ito. So pag-aralan natin ng mabuti. We have to really study first the effects of the first TRAIN before we can actually discuss this,” he said.
"Walang gustong mag-sponsor dito . . . Ino-offer na ni Senator (Sonny) Angara to all the members of the opposition or the minority who would want to graciously take it, walang takers. Wala talagang takers sa amin na mag-sponsor ng TRAIN 2."
Zubiri said their main concern is bringing more suffering to the public, including to businessmen and to investors.
A new tax law directed at the business sector would definitely shoo them away that would surely result in more job losses, he said.
"The fact is a lot of businesses and industries have already complained to us that they are looking to take up shop elsewhere. Sabi nila pag matatanggal incentives nila, lipat sila ng Vietnam. I also have my serious reservations on TRAIN 2,” Zubiri said.
Zubiri said he is even willing to lose his majority post, if the President insisted that he sponsor the TRAIN 2 bill.
"If jobs will be lost here, definitely that will not have my vote . . . Imagine the call center industry leaving us? Ilang milyon kaya 'yung mawawalan ng trabaho?” he said.
As for the other requested measures of the President, such as ending contractualization, the Universal Health Care Bill and other pro-people measures, Zubiri said these will be passed by the Senate.
House panel tackles TRAIN 2
The House Committee on Ways and Means, meanwhile, tackled the proposed measure Tuesday.
In a statement, the House panel said it met with the Department of Finance (DOF) to discuss TRAIN 2 and House bills advocating for lower corporate income tax rate.
Finance undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the government's main objective in TRAIN 2 is to "arrive at more fair and accountable tax incentives."
"Because every peso granted as tax incentive is a peso off the budget that could have been spent for infrastructure, health, education, and social protection that would benefit everyone and not only a few," he said.