No ‘last-minute’ changes made in tax reform bill, lawmaker says

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 15 2017 05:48 AM

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Dakila Cua denied allegations last-minute changes were made in the tax reform bill approved by the bicameral committee to retain the tax breaks enjoyed by local coal firms.

Cua explained that the clause repealing the presidential decree exempting local coal from value added tax and other taxes is not part of the bicam-approved version of the measure.

"That was the agreement between majority of the members of the Senate panel, as well as the house panel. There was no last-minute deletion," he said.

Senator Joel Villanueva on Wednesday expressed dismay over the alleged sudden removal of a provision in the bicameral report of the Tax Reform for Inclusion and Acceleration (TRAIN) bill requiring local coal producers to pay excise tax.

"Mr. President, yesterday, we made a shocking discovery as we were preparing to ratify the bicameral committee report on the TRAIN bill. This act of deletion displayed the hand of the industry with intentions as dark as the dirtiest of all fossil fuels," said Villanueva, vice chairperson of the Senate committee on ways and means.

Cua noted that panel members from both houses of Congress agreed to tackle the repeal of the local coal tax exemption along with other fiscal incentives in the second tax reform package.

"The consensus was to retain the exemption just like we retained the exemption of renewable energy so that all these industries can be taken up together as part and parcel of a wide range discussion on fiscal incentives in package two, as originally designed by the DOF (Department of Finance)" Cua said.

DOF'S latest estimates show that the ratified version of the first tax reform package will yield only P92 billion, about 30% less than the initial projection of P130 billion.