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Gov’t wants higher taxes but rejects foreign aid — Sen. Aquino

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Senator Benigno Aquino IV said he could not reconcile the government’s decision to reject about P13.9 billion in aid from the European Union while proposing to raise taxes to ensure higher revenue collection.

“The administration’s refusal to receive aid seems like a contradictory move to its proposal to raise taxes. If we are refusing aid because we are self-sufficient, why are we then planning to burden our countrymen with more taxes that might raise prices of goods even higher?” the senator said.

“We have to be clear on the direction of our foreign policy. Filipinos deserve to know because they are the ones who will be directly affected — in terms of job generation, business, prices of goods. The government must disclose details of this policy,” Aquino added.

Aquino said it was ironic that the country will let go of foreign aid while the administration’s tax reform package inch closer to becoming a law after it was recently passed by the ways and means committee in the House of Representative.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate earlier warned that the Palace-backed tax reform package that seeks to lower personal income tax rates will also expand the value-added tax (VAT) base and adjust excise taxes on petroleum and automobiles.
“This bill will definitely hit the poor hard because it would mean higher prices of basic goods and services,” Zarate said.

Once enacted, diesel which is P31 per liter now would be P34 per liter next year, P36 per liter in 2019 and P37 per liter in 2020. On the hand, LPG that retails for P541 now would increase to P574 next year and to P596 and P607 in the next succeeding years.

For his part, Senator Francis Pangilinan said the government should make sure to provide funding for ongoing projects.
“It is the prerogative of any state to refuse to accept help from its friends abroad, the international community. What government needs to do is to act swiftly and ensure that all existing and ongoing EU aid programs benefitting our people in the local communities do not suffer when the aid is pulled out,” he said.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, in announcing the government’s decision, said the move aims to deter the EU from interfering into the country’s affairs.