MANILA - Some traders and executive agencies, and not the government’s tax reform program, should be blamed for the rising cost of living in the country, 2 re-electionist senators who helped pass the measure said Monday.
Prices of food and other commodities surged this year after higher excise taxes were imposed on fuel, alongside steeper crude prices in the world market.
The government failed to foresee that some individuals may take advantage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), Senator Cynthia Villar said after she filed her certificate of candidacy.
“Hindi naman ito kasalanan lahat ng TRAIN law. Nagtake advantage din traders dito. Ginamit nila ang TRAIN law para magtaas ng presyo,” Villar told reporters when asked if she feels that her support for the measure would affect her chances of winning.
“It’s a lesson learned. We will be guided in the future that when we project inflation, we should not only consider real things, but also the bad things that are happening here,” she said.
Senator Grace Poe, who also voted for the TRAIN’s passage, blamed some executive agencies for its failure to deliver cash assistance that would cushion the poor from higher prices brought by the policy that took effect in January this year.
“We supported TRAIN law because the President said the government needed funds,” Poe said.
“They said there will also be mitigating measures para sa pinaka mahihirap na kababayan pero ang nagiging problema, nakolekta na nila yung pera pero 'yung mga pantulong na pantawid hindi pa naibibigay ng mabilis,” she said.
Under the law, the Social Welfare Department must give some 10 million poor Filipinos a P200 monthly subsidy to help them cope with higher prices of goods in 2018. The amount will be increased to P3,600 or P300 per month for 2019 and 2020.
“Kung ang tulong ay naipamahagi ng mas mabilis, hindi tayo ganito ka-miserable ngayon,” Poe said.
The government earlier said it would suspend the second tranche of the tax reform package to tame inflation.
Starting January 2019, TRAIN was supposed to add another P2 excise tax per liter to the cost of diesel and gasoline. This would take the total excise tax for diesel to P4.50 and for gasoline to P9.
The excise tax was already hiked this year by P2.50 per liter for diesel and P7 per liter for gasoline.
The second tranche of the tax reform package should be throughly reviewed to avoid another series of price hikes, Poe said.