Malacañang practically ignored the Joint Foreign Chambers’s (JFC) call for the lowering of individual and corporate tax rates as part of the administration’s comprehensive tax reform.
In a news briefing on Wednesday, Secretary Edwin Lacierda pointed anew to President Aquino’s remarks in Iloilo earlier this week that the options offered to fill the resulting revenue hole are not good enough.
The JFC said on Tuesday that the Aquino administration can cut individual and corporate income-tax rates, while making upward adjustments in the value-added tax and oil-excise tax. The International Monetary Fund’s resident representative to the Philippines had also advised a two-track approach of widening taxpayers’ base while cutting income-tax rates.
Asked if the Palace would heed the JFC’s appeal for President Aquino to reconsider its rejection of the chamber’s proposal—which is meant to spur investments and commerce while avoiding deficit spending—both Lacierda and Communications Secretary Herminio B. Coloma Jr. affirmed Mr. Aquino’s position on the issue.
“The President prefers to stay the course for the remainder of his term in order to preserve and consolidate the gains achieved through sound management of macroeconomic fundamentals,” Coloma said in response to JFC’s bid for reconsideration. But Lacierda admitted that Palace officials have yet to sit down to take up JFC’s alternative proposals. “Well, we haven’t discussed it other than the statement that he [President Aquino] has already made yesterday [Monday], so it hasn’t been discussed yet. But I believe the President responded to this yesterday,” Lacierda said.
At the same time, Lacierda shrugged off negative comments by disappointed netizens that the President’s rejection of the JFC’s counterproposal is likely to backfire on the candidates the Aquino administration will endorse in the 2016 elections.
“What the administration is batting for is a comprehensive discussion on the tax system,” he said. “So, we are looking not just at the income- tax system, but we are looking at the entire comprehensive taxation reform that we want to happen. In fact, that has already been mentioned by [Finance Secretary CesarV. ] Purisima.”