Philippine government gives go-ahead for tax restructure

19 Dec 17

The Philippines has ratified a bill that will lower income taxes while increasing taxes on sweetened beverages, petroleum products, cars and tobacco next year.

The new tax package, which is expected to generate up to $1.8bn in the first year, was approved on Wednesday last week.

The bill is said to be what president Rodrigo Duterte needs to push ahead with his economic agenda, including plans he has dubbed the “golden age of infrastructure”.

He has promised to increase annual spending on infrastructure projects to more than 7% of GDP, from less than 3% before he began his term 17 months ago.

The finance secretary Carlos Dominquez said the bill was “the best gift the government can give to our people”.

The reform, known as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), is one of the five packages the president is pushing to increase state revenues and simplify the tax system.

Dominquez said in a statement: “We are now ready for the TRAIN to leave the station.”

The Asian Development Bank approved a $300m loan and a $500,000 technical assistance grant to support the country’s financial sector reforms last month.

The World Bank praised the Philippines earlier this year for its economic growth as it marked one of the fastest growth rates in the world for 2016.

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