Gov’t to push tax, PPP, budget reforms
Economic managers will work with the legislative branch to enact into law key bills being pushed by the Duterte administration, including a comprehensive tax reform, an enhanced legislation to fast-track public-private partnership (PPP) projects and a budget process restructuring.
The Department of Finance (DOF) has already pitched to the incoming leadership of the 17th Congress pieces of priority legislation, including those that would put in place the comprehensive tax reform package as well as streamline processes at government agencies, department spokesperson Paola Alvarez told the Inquirer.
“Our main goal is to pass a comprehensive tax package within a year and to push for streamlining at the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue in order to improve collections,” Alvarez added.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III earlier said that the DOF would submit to Congress the tax package by September.
Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said last week that the comprehensive package would include a reduction in personal and corporate income tax rates while increasing the levy on soft drink and petroleum products as well as rationalizing the tax perks given away to investors to compensate for foregone revenues from lower income taxes.
“We are pushing for legislation that can address our 10-point economic agenda [to alleviate] our socioeconomic problems,” Alvarez noted. The Duterte administration’s socioeconomic agenda is aimed at slashing the poverty rate to about 16 percent by 2022 from 25 percent at present.
Director General Ernesto M. Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority told the Inquirer that the state planning agency would likewise push to refile the PPP and land use bills.
“New bills [will] be formulated at the first Ledac meeting” after President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address today, Pernia said, referring to the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council. These will likely include transport and water resource policies.
Dominguez had said the Duterte administration would enhance the PPP program and would be open to unsolicited proposals from the private sector. “Both the concept and the execution of the PPP program will be dramatically reviewed. This should only secondarily be a tool for raising revenues—this is first and foremost an opportunity to bring private sector participation in nation-building. The PPP program will, in the new dispensation, no longer be merely a Power Point presentation,” the Finance chief had said.
As of mid-2016, 17 PPP projects worth a total of P580 billion were in the pipeline, all of which the government wanted to bid out by 2017. The 17 projects included six airport projects, two Light Rail Transit lines, a railway project and toll roads.
The Department of Budget and Management, meanwhile, is pushing for a budget reform bill that “will curb the abuses of the past executive officials in the exercise of budget preparation and execution,” according to Diokno.
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