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Gov’t must not resort to new, higher taxes to pay Philippines debt, says Escudero

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MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Senatorial candidate Francis Escudero is calling to the national government not to impose new and higher taxes to pay off the country’s debts while Filipinos are still suffering from the effects of the pandemic.

According to the Inquirer, Escudero made the remark after the DOF proposed new or higher taxes to pay for the foreign debts incurred by the Duterte administration to address the Covid-19 crisis.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the incumbent governor of Sorsogon said, “It’s true that the government needs increased revenue but I do not believe this is the right time to impose new taxes or tax hikes because we are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic.”

“Filipinos are only just beginning to regain their health and livelihoods—will the government make recovery harder for us than it already is? Hindi pa nga tayo nakakatayo, ibabaon na naman ba natin ang ating sarili sa mga bagong bayarin?”

The removal of all exemptions from 12-percent value-added tax payments, as well as further increases in excise taxes on cigarettes, e-cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, and sugary beverages, are among those being studied and considered by the DOF.

However, Escudero pointed out that the VAT exemption benefits approximately 10 million senior citizens and 1.4 million people with disabilities (PWDs).

Escudero stated that we must pay our debts, but not at the expense of our seniors, people with disabilities, and dying exporters who are exempt from paying VAT. He went on to say that we should think of ways to fulfill our responsibilities without becoming a burden to our countrymen

Escudero, a two-term senator running for re-election to the Senate on May 9, said the government should instead consider selling assets and maximizing public-private partnerships (PPP) to fund infrastructure development.

“There are ways to free up fiscal space for debt payments, instead of immediately looking at new taxes. PPP is the way to go,” he said. “For the long term, the government should exert more effort into eliminating corruption, which is bleeding us P700 billion annually. That’s enough to build 1.4 million housing units.”

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