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NEDA chief pushes for tax reform bill

The country could face a “dark age of infrastructure” if government’s priority tax reform bill does not get the congressional approval soon, the country’s socio-economic planning chief said on Tuesday.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general Ernesto Pernia said the government may not be able to fund the massive infrastructure program in case additional revenues are not raised.

The President’s economic manager gave the “terrible” prospect in a bid to highlight the importance of the passage of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) “in toto” by Congress. The tax reform bill aims to boost revenues needed for infrastructure development, education and healthcare services in the country.

“It’s not going to be the golden age of infrastructure. It will be the bronze age maybe of infrastructure or maybe, dark age – dark age of infrastructure so that is how terrible, that is how unwelcome the non-passage of the CTRP is going to be,” Pernia said in a Palace press briefing.

“We will be unable to fund the ‘Build, Build, Build.’ It will be small build, small build, small build,” he said.

“Maybe no build, no build, no build,” he added.

If Congress fails to pass the tax reform bill, Pernia also said the government might be forced to borrow funds to finance basic public services. “No improvement in terms of improving quality of education and health care, as well as improving infrastructure,” he said.

He appealed to Congress to pass the tax reform bill “in toto” so the government could adequately bankroll vital infrastructure and social projects.

“We have ought to realize that and people should rally with the administration to motivate, to urge Congress to pass the bill,” he said.

Last Monday, the President certified as urgent the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN).