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A TRAIN doomed for the poor: Mareng Winnie tells how tax reform bill got worse in senators’ hands

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If the proposed tax reform package passed by the House of Representatives was already anti-poor, those who have less in life are bound to suffer even more with the version of the bill pending in the Senate, former socioeconomic planning secretary Solita “Mareng Winnie” Monsod said.

In her September 23 column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Monsod took senators to task for failing to stand up to mining and tobacco lobbyists who want to exclude sin and mining tax reforms in the bill.

“The Senate not only did not stand up to them, it also became their doormat,” she said.

As proof of the Senate’s hesitation to go against the powerful mining and tobacco lobbyists, Monsod, an economics professor at the University of the Philippines, said no senator endorsed a tax measure which was absent in the version of the bill passed by the House.

Monsod previously said that reforms to the sin and mining taxes could result in an additional revenue of P120 billion for the government. She proposed these changes as an alternative to imposing additional taxes that will hit the poor.

Aside from the tobacco and mining lobbyists, Monsod said it appears the automotive industry has also been pressuring senators to reduce the proposed excise tax on petroleum products from P3 to P1.75.

Seeing the changes in the bill, Monsod remarked: “Senator [Sonny] Angara and other members of the Senate, the bill you have before you is even more flawed than the TRAIN the House has passed.”

“The net effect is that it seems you have addressed the needs of the rich (e.g., put a cap on income tax rates, reduced automotive and fuel excises), and are cavalier about the needs of the poor and the marginally nonpoor. Once again, screw the poor,” she added.