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Poe says Dominguez, economic managers ‘doublecrossed’ senators: Now they’re resorting to gobbledygook

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Sen. Grace Poe accused economic managers led by Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez of hoodwinking senators into approving the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law which imposed additional taxes on petroleum products and sweetened beverages and partly led to a steep surge in inflation.

Poe said the economic managers have resorted to gobbledygook to defend their horrible performance instead of focusing on solutions to the rice crisis, rising oil prices, slowing growth, and weak peso.

“The focus should really be on the economy… so that people’s lives will be better, not some highfalutin interpretation of the economy but the prices of goods. Those are really affecting our countrymen,” said Poe in an interview.

Poe, who was among the 17 senators who asked President Duterte to support moves for both Houses of Congress to suspend further increases in excise taxes on diesel, gasoline, and other petroleum products for 2019 and 2020, said state agencies should implement with no delay the mitigating measures to cushion price spikes mandated in the TRAIN Law.

“‘Yun ang problema, they collect taxes but the programs that are promised are not delivered immediately or are not delivered at all. You want to support the initiative of the government to collect taxes but you have to follow the provisions that say ‘yung mga fuel vouchers, unconditional cash transfers, discounts for senior citizens and the like should also be implemented alongside, and as quickly as the collection of taxes,” said Poe.

Poe expressed concern about the implementation of the first tranche of the tax reform package, especially the failure to deliver social protection measures for the poor.

“With the way that they are implementing it, the failure to be able to deliver on certain promises and programs of the government, of course I feel that we’ve kind of been double-crossed. Because we wanted to support the President, on his appeal that we need money to be able to push for programs. Okay, we’re there but then there are also provisions there that said to cushion the taxes, the poorest of the poor should be able to benefit from the collection,” Poe said.

The senator found it ironic that the respective budgets of key state agencies were slashed under the proposed 2019 General Appropriations Act, which is currently being deliberated in Congress.

“Ang nangyayari ngayon, lumabas ang budget, they slashed the budget of the Department of Agriculture, they did the same thing to the Department of Health; so parang kung kailan pa tayo nagtaas ng tax, ganoon mo pa puputulin ang mga programs ng gobyerno na mararamdaman ng mahihirap, so natural, mali,” said Poe. “Kaya nga itong TRAIN 2 nila na tinatago nila sa pangalan na Trabaho bill, ay baka mahirapan na talaga ito.”