By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is not yet keen on supporting proposals to lower the value-added tax (VAT) rate, saying such may compromise the funding for the government’s programs, such as the free college education.
Zubiri deviated from the view of some his colleagues in the Upper Chamber as he believes that it would be impractical at present to lower the VAT from 12 percent to 10 percent.
Senators Panfilo Lacson, Risa Hontiveros and Joel Villanueva have been appealing for the decrease in the VAT to cushion the impact of inflation especially to poor Filipinos.
Villanueva, just recently, said the Filipino families would save more in the lowering of VAT than the P25-increase in the daily minimum pay of Metro Manila workers.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier this year had also expressed support for the calls.
But Zubiri, on Thursday, stressed the need for revenue-generating measures as he cited the laws enacted under the Duterte administration that require funding.
“Maraming bumabanat sa revenue measures ng ating administration, but let me remind everybody, — I’m not saying this to promote TRAIN 1 — ang sa akin lang, ang dami naming naipasa na batas na, free education, free irrigation (Many are criticizing the administration’s revenue measures, but let me remind everybody — I’m not saying this to promote TRAIN 1 — but as for me, we have passed several laws that provide subsidies such as free education, free irrigation),” he said at the Kapihan sa Senado forum.
“So hindi naman tama (it would not be proper to lower VAT). Saan manggagaling ang pera, ang pondo nyan (Where will the money, the fund for these come from)? I’m not an economic major but I’ll tell you now that somebody has to pay for the bill. May gastos yan, eh (The government will spend on it). May pondo na kailangan diyan (There has to be a fund for it),” he noted.
He also cited the “steadying” inflation in the country and hopes that the prices of goods will further decline in the coming months.
For Zubiri, the best time to tackle the proposed lowering of VAT is when Filipinos “are already rich” and when the country’s gross domestic product becomes at par with neighboring Southeast Asian countries.
“Personally, baka mahirapan po tayo na ibaba pa ang VAT at this point in time. Iset-up muna natin yong bill for subsidy to the Filipino people. ‘Pag yumaman na ang taong bayan pwede na nating pag-usapan ang pagbaba ng VAT,” he said.