Thursday July 19, 2018

Tax reform, peace tops dev't forum agenda

THE comprehensive tax reform and peace and development in Mindanao blueprint will be highlighted during the Philippines Development Forum (PDF) 2016, which opens November 8 and ends November 9 at the SMX Convention Center, Lanang, Davao City.

The two-day multi-sectoral dialogue led by the Department of Finance aims to forge collective action from various stakeholders on how to vigorously implement the government’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda.

Secretary Jesus Dureza of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, who is the forum’s co-chairperson, will give the opening statement before the start of the PDF plenary session that will be led by members of the Duterte Cabinet.

Comprehensive Tax Reform

The Department of Finance (DOF) is working on a Comprehensive Tax Reform Program to help ensure the financial sustainability of the new government’s accelerated spending on infrastructure, human capital and social protection, as a way to realize the primary goal of the 10-point socioeconomic agenda, which is to drastically reduce poverty on the Duterte watch.

The DOF has already submitted to the Congress the first package of this tax plan, which includes cuts in personal income taxes primarily for the benefit of wage earners and other low-income Filipinos, along with measures to offset the projected revenue losses from the lower tax rates, like adjusting the fuel excise tax and automobile tax, and broadening the value added tax (VAT) base by removing certain exemptions.

Through the comprehensive tax plan, the DOF aims to set the ground for government to spend an extra P1 trillion per year on infrastructure, human capital and social protection, so it can meet the President’s vision of transforming the Philippines into an upper middle-income economy by the end of his term in 2022 and into a high income economy in one generation or by 2040.

The inputs gathered from the various stakeholders will be incorporated into the Philippines Development Plan (PDP) 2017 to 2022 currently being completed by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

Peace initiatives

Some of the update with the peace process is the cooperation between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front’s (MNLF).

With this, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) said that the peace negotiation in Mindanao is back on track.

The Opapp, in a statement emailed to the media on Saturday, said the positive response of the MNLF on the invitation to participate the Bangsamoro peace process and the signing of the executive order that will create inclusive Bangsamoro Transition Commission on November 7 are significant steps closer to comprehensive and inclusive resolution of the decade-long armed conflict in Mindanao.

“The peace process in Mindanao is on track with both the MILF and the MNLF on board for more inclusive resolution to the conflict. They are willing to sit at the peace table and work together with the government to address the historical injustices committed against the Moro people. This is an unprecedented and historic development,” Dureza said.

After the opening and plenary sessions, the participants will be grouped into several “breakout” sessions that will discuss the Philippines’ (1) macroeconomic and fiscal policies, including the DOF’s proposed tax reform program, and (2) its peace and development initiatives in Mindanao, among other topics.

The breakout sessions will also tackle strategies on (3) improving Philippine infrastructure and competitiveness, including the development of science and technology, building an efficient transport network and improving the ease of doing business.

Other topics like (4) rural development, including land administration and management and food security, and (5) the development of human capital, including social protection programs for the poorest of the poor and the implementation of the reproductive health law, will also be covered by separate breakout sessions.

The last PDF formal meeting was held in February 2013, also in Davao City, with around 300 participants from government, international development partners, and other stakeholders.