An increase in the government’s share in the billions of pesos in revenues from mining and the passage of the sin tax bill are among the laws President Aquino will ask Congress to pass despite fast-approaching midterm elections.
Taxes and other revenue proposals are unpopular as elections draw near, and Mr. Aquino’s majority allies in Congress are facing their first election since he came to office two years ago, but the government needs to raise more revenue to finance its development and social programs.
Two Palace officials spoke about President Aquino’s legislative wish list two days before he was to address a joint session of Congress to report on the state of the nation.
Mr. Aquino is expected to present his legislative priorities during his speech, but Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Presidential Legislative Liaison Manuel Mamba didn’t say if the bills they mentioned would be included in the State of the Nation Address, whose text is closely guarded until minutes before delivery.
“That will be subject to another round of [legislative-executive development advisory council] discussions,” Abad said when asked what measures the President would ask from the Senate and the House of Representatives before the 15th Congress ended and the lawmakers faced voters next May.
“But some immediately come to mind—sin tax indexation, rationalization of fiscal incentives, the third [Anti-Money Laundering Act or Amla] amendment, and recently, the increase in excise tax on mining,” Abad said in a text message to the Inquirer.
Asked if those proposals would be in the President’s speech, Abad said he was not sure, as the speech was still going through revisions, with an eighth draft in the works as of yesterday.
Mamba, speaking on state-run radio dzRB, said President Aquino’s priority measures were the sin tax reform bill, the ratification of the country’s visiting forces agreement with Australia, and the third amendment to give more teeth to the antimoney-laundering law.