Senator Win Gatchalian on Wednesday urged the national government to put into place a concrete plan to implement the cash transfer program meant to shield poor Filipinos from the inflationary effects of the proposed tax reform package, which is still pending legislative approval.
“The expanded cash transfer program needs to be implemented immediately upon passage of the tax reform bill. Otherwise, the proposed tax increases will become an insufferable burden for poor Filipinos,” he added.
According to government estimates, the poorest half of the population would be negatively impacted by increasing prices of basic commodities due to the various excise taxes provided under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act. To compensate for this, the government has promised to expand its cash transfer program from 4.4 million beneficiary families up to 10 million families.
Gatchalian, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, expressed concern about the government’s sluggish preparations for the cash transfer program, noting that expanding the number of beneficiaries by more than 50-percent in just a matter of months would be extremely difficult to pull off.
“It has taken the government 10 years to expand the delivery capacity of its cash transfer program up to 4 million families. If the Duterte administration wants to double this mark in only a fraction of the time, then it has to put more effort into putting a realistic and efficient strategy into place for the roll-out of this program,” said Gatchalian.
“The expanded cash transfer program is non-negotiable. Without it, we cannot go ahead with the proposed tax reform package. The inflationary effects would simply be too much for underprivileged Filipinos to shoulder,” he added.