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Pres. Duterte inks P3.767 trillion 2018 national budget, first tax reform package into law

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is flanked by lawmakers as he leads the Ceremonial Signing of the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) in Malacañan Palace on December 19, 2017. ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO


President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday, December 19, signed the first package of his administration’s tax reform initiative as an early Christmas gift for the Filipino people.

In a ceremony held at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañan Palace, the President inked the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill, which seeks to make the country’s tax system simpler, fairer and more efficient.

“This is the administrations biggest Christmas gift to the Filipino people as 99 percent of the taxpayers will benefit from the simpler, fairer, and more efficient tax system,” Duterte said.

According to the President, the TRAIN bill, now Republic Act (RA) No. 10963, is a product and a milestone for the Department of Finance (DoF), which has worked hard for the bill to come into fruition.

One of TRAIN’s significant breakthroughs, Duterte said, will be the exemption of individuals earning P250,000 per annum from paying taxes, starting the first day of 2018.

“The law also addresses long and overdue corrections in our tax laws and introduces a more progressive tax system for the rich and the poor, contribute to give better services to our people,” Duterte added.

Revenues that will be culled from the new tax system will fund priority projects such as free tuition in state universities and colleges, quality health care, social protection and conditional cash transfers, infrastructure development through the Build, Build, Build project and the reconstruction of Marawi City.

The Chief Executive likewise instructed the Department of Finance for a swift and effective implementation of the first package of TRAIN and to immediately submit the second package to Congress.

The second package, according the President, will deal with corporate income tax early next year and will complement the revenues of TRAIN.

In the same ceremony, the President also signed the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2018 carrying P3.767-trillion budget, a 12 percent increase from last year’s budget.

President Duterte then commended the timely submission of the 2018 national budget from both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The 2018 budget will primarily support infrastructure development and free education in state universities and colleges, universal health care, free irrigation, and the maintenance of peace and order across the country.

Duterte also said that part of this budget will go to the doubling of the basic pay of soldiers and policemen, as he had earlier promised.

“Let me emphasize that this budget is a credible budget and I ensure everyone that this will be supported by the comprehensive tax reform program embodied by the TRAIN, subject to several line vetoes which shall be discussed separately in my veto message,” he added.

Meanwhile, the President said that the signing of the two laws is the fulfillment of his campaign promise to institute genuine fiscal reform for every Filipino.

“So the bold and decisive efforts of our economic managers were able to design and craft a spending and tax plan embodied by the 2018 General Appropriations Act and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act or the TRAIN,” he added.

These laws, the President added, will serve as an initial step towards cutting the country’s poverty rate to 14 percent and make the Philippines an upper middle class come 2022.

“The passage of 2018 GAA and TRAIN is not just a victory for the legislative and executive branches of government, it is a victory for our people,” Duterte said. ### (PND)

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