Poe pushes for funding mass transport projects in tax reform measure

Sen. Grace Poe is proposing that revenues from petroleum excise taxes contained in the first tranche of the administration’s tax reform package could be used to supplement public mass transportation projects that provide an efficient way to serve an expanding population, address congestion and reduce costs.
“Importanteng maglagay ng probisyon sa panukalang batas na ito para sa mga proyektong kaugnay ng transportasyon na magdudulot ng ginhawa sa publiko,” said Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public services.
“Kung may puwedeng pagkunan, huwag na nating ipangutang ang lahat. We are hoping that this earmark in the tax reform could help fund ambitious mass transportation projects without the need to fully rely on foreign borrowings,” the senator added.
Poe wrote Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means and principal sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1592 or the proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIn) Act seeking to overhaul the Philippine tax system, late last month to consider her proposal.
“I believe that these shared advocacies, if enacted as part of the TRAIN bill, will immensely benefit the Filipino people,” Poe wrote.
Under the earmarking provisions of the bill, the government shall allocate incremental revenues generated from the petroleum excise tax to aid in the implementation of public utility vehicle modernization projects, which Poe wants amended to include “other mass transportation projects.”
Such revenues shall also be used to fund P300 “unconditional” cash transfer programs per family for the bottom 10 million poorest households.
Finance department estimates show that the government is seen to generate some P40 billion in revenues if the Senate version on oil excise taxes is approved.
The Senate version of the tax reform package proposed that the P6 excise taxes on petroleum be implemented in three tranches so as not to adversely cause inflationary impact: P1.75 for the first year, P2 for the second, and P2.25 for the third--or from 2018 up to 2020 if the timeline to pass the measure before yearend is considered.
Kerosene, which is used as fuel by some three million poor families especially in the rural areas, will remain exempt from the excise tax.
The scheduled increase in the excise taxes on fuel, however, shall be suspended once the price of oil hits $80 dollars per barrel or when the inflation rate exceeds official targets set by the government.

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