President Duterte has described his 2018 budget and tax reform as the “biggest Christmas gift to the Filipino people”.
The president today (Tuesday, December 19) signed into law the 3.767-billion pesos General Appropriations Act (GAA) and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act He said these were the fulfilment of his campaign promise to institute genuine fiscal reforms that would be felt by every Filipino.
In his message after the signing ceremonies, the president said that the implementation of these laws would serve as the government’s initial step towards cutting the poverty rate to 14 per cent and making the Philippines an upper middle class country by 2022.
“The 2018 budget, which is 12 per cent higher than last year’s budget, will primarily support infrastructure development and free education in state universities and colleges, universal health care, free irrigation and the maintenance of peace and order across the country,” he said.
In the 2018 GAA, the Department of Education (DepEd) has the largest allocation with 553.3 billion pesos.
Among those with the highest budget allocations are: the Department of the Interior and Local Government with 170.8 billion, the Department of National Defense with 149.7 billion, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development with 141.8 billion.
“This will also fulfil my campaign promise of doubling the basic pay of our soldiers and police officers which will take effect on the very first day of 2018,” he said.
The president also said that the passage of TRAIN is “the administration’s biggest Christmas gift to the Filipino people as 99 per cent of the taxpayers would benefit from the simpler, fairer and more efficient tax system.”
He cited the income tax exemption for those earning below 250,000 pesos as one of the most significant breakthroughs of the TRAIN law.
“The law also addresses long and overdue corrections in our tax laws and introduces a more progressive tax system for the rich and the poor, contribute to give better services to our people,” he said.
The tax reform package aims to bring in 120 billion in additional revenues to the government coffers — with 70 per cent of the expected revenues earmarked for the administration’s infrastructure programme and 30 per cent for social services.
“Revenues from the TRAIN will fund our priority projects to ensure a quality education, including free tuition in state universities and colleges, equally, quality health care, social protection and conditional cash transfers, improved infrastructures to the Build, Build, Build programme and the reconstruction of Marawi,” he said.