By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means demanded today the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations on the social protection programs under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN), even as he warned that the passage of the TRAIN 2 would hinge on how the government implements its first tax reform package.
Quirino Rep. Dakila Cua made the call after the Department of Finance (DOF) admitted that the IRR of the TRAIN’s social protection mechanism, which includes the Pantawid Pasada program for jeepney drivers and operators, has yet to be issued.
“Have you started drafting the IRR for this o nakalimutan na ba natin ito? ,” he asked the officials of the DOF and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) yesterday.
“The law mandates we do it right away. We do it as soon as possible, ” Cua said.
He said it will be difficult to pass the TRAIN 2, which lowers the income tax for corporations if the social benefits of the TRAIN 1 will not be immediately given to the affected sectors and the poorest households.
The DOF said they are still preparing the groundwork to implement the TRAIN’s social protection scheme.
“We make it happen faster and sooner. As we go to TRAIN 2, hindi natin maiwasan ang pagusapan ang epekto ng TRAIN 1. Hindi madaling ipasa ang TRAIN 2 kung may utang pa tayo sa taumbayan. Kung naramdaman nila na ang TRAIN 1 ay nakakatulong, (the passage of the) train 2 will be much easier,” Cua said.
He asked the DOF to update his panel next week on the status, and timeline of the implementation of the social protection provisions in the TRAIN.
The Duterte government allotted P25.7 billion in the 2018 budget for the targeted unconditional cash transfer program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the benefit of the poorest 10 million households.
In December last year, President Duterte signed into law package 1A of the TRAIN law under Republic Act 10963 which took effect on January 1. It slashed and restructured personal income tax rates, but jacked up or slapped new taxes ob consumption of oil, cigarettes, sugary drinks, and vehicles.
Before the enactment of TRAIN, there was no excise tax on diesel, kerosene, cooking gas and bunker fuel.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate warned the Duterte administration against railroading the passage of TRAIN 2, saying that it would further spark inflation.
The Davao-based solon also cited the need to repeal or at the minimum amend the “regressive and anti-people” provisions of TRAIN 1.
“Congress should also carefully scrutinize TRAIN 2; it should not be railroaded and should not burden more our already overtaxed consumers,” Zarate said.