Consumers told to brace for price spikes

WITH the impending implementation of the tax reform package, consumers were advised to brace for expected spikes in prices of basic and prime commodities.

The Tax Reform and Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Act, which President Rodrigo Duterte is set to sign into law Monday, December 18, will increase the take-home pay of those earning less than P21,000 monthly, but will increase the prices of fuel, tobacco products and sugar-sweetened beverages.

In a statement on Monday, December 18, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said the measure will "trigger a price shock."

Under the version approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, employees receiving up to P250,000 annually will be exempted from paying income tax.

To compensate for the loss of revenues, government will impose higher excise taxes on fuel, automobiles, tobacco products and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Opposition lawmakers have opposed the measure, saying it is "anti-poor" as Filipinos will need to shell out more for basic products and services.

"Aside from the procedural lapses in the passing of the railroaded Train bill in the House of Representatives, the contents of the bill itself are highly contentious and gravely anti-people," Zarate said.

"Once implemented, this Train will trigger a price shock against consumers with the spike of prices of oil, power, sugary beverages and other products," he added.

Zarate said the tax reform bill should at least have a provision to cushion the adverse impact to consumers of these added tax on fuel by, among others, requiring distribution utilities to subject supply contracts to truly competitive bidding.

He also added that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) should review its rate setting methodologies and eliminate "unfair" consumer charges.

"Even with this though, the tax reform package remains an oppressive piece of legislation that should definitely be opposed in all fronts," ended the Davao-based lawmaker. (SunStar Philippines)
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