MANILA May 29 Philippine President Rodrigo
Duterte asked Congress on Monday to fast track a tax reform bill
needed to raise funds that will soothe investors concerns over
delays to a planned $180 billion infrastructure programme.
Congress has begun giving the bill a second reading, and
Duterte wants the lower house's immediate approval, though bills
receive up to three readings.
"The benefits to be derived from this tax reform measure
will sustainably finance the government's envisioned massive
investments in infrastructure, thereby encouraging economic
activity and job creation," Duterte wrote in a letter to
Duterte's party holds a super-majority in the 292-seat
Congress and a majority in the upper house, but the bill has run
into some resistance, particularly over plans to raise fuel
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in a memo to Duterte
that he hoped the bill would be passed by June 2 following the
The government has targeted infrastructure spending of 5.4
percent of GDP this year, rising to 7.4 percent of GDP by 2022,
but the plan's success rests on raising funds to pay for
highways, bridges, ports, train lines and upgrades to airports.
Aside from raising fuel duties, the bill also proposes a
reduction in the top income tax rate, removal of value added tax
exemptions, simplification of the tax code, and changes to
excise taxes on automobiles and other products.
The Philippines is one of the world's fastest growing
economies, though the 6.4 percent growth posted in the
January-March quarter was the slowest since the last quarter of
($1 = 49.8120 Philippine pesos)
(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)