By NORWIN GONZALES
BAGUIO CITY — The railroaded TRAIN hits us all.
Months after the House of Representatives approved, with so much haste and with no proper quorum, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN), it finds its way into the stores and homes in Baguio City.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed the law late last year, with hopes of accumulating 1.3 T worth of funds for his “Build. Build. Build” strategy in infrastructure. Beginning January 2018, TRAIN is now implemented nationwide.
“It is a huge problem for us,” said Geraldine Cacho of Tongtongan ti Umili (TTU). “Because of the excise tax in petroleum products, every aspect of daily living will be affected.”
“Not to mention value-added tax to other commodities such as sweetened beverages,” she added.
One tank of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is now worth P600 from the former P560.
Milkfish or bangus is P140 per kilo from P110. The same price increase range can be said for other variants of fish.
Canned goods, instant noodles, powdered coffee and other daily needs have shot up by at least P3 in sari-sari stores. This affects millions of minimum wage-earners.
When it comes to rice, there has not been a recorded price increases because supplies are high due to harvest season.
However, an increase is to be expected as price increases in petroleum products particularly used in shipping will be reflected.
Price increases are also expected in utilities when the oil price hikes are fully set into motion. So, consumers will also carry the burden of higher bills in electricity and water.
“The rich and high-income earners will ultimately benefit from TRAIN. They say there is a tax deduction for the common people. But there is a not greater deduction for the already rich,” Cacho said.
“There is virtually no tax deduction for workers because they only live on minimum wage. But they carry the burden of the higher prices of goods, “Mike Cabangon of Kilusang Mayo Uno – Cordillera (KMU-Cordillera) said.
The mentioned aim for TRAIN to boost infrastructure development is also slammed by Cabangon as a project “not for the poor” but only for big businesses.
“Billions will be spent just to make the country more attractive to foreign investors,” he said.
“Duterte should have stuck to his campaign promise of national industrialization. Then only can the poor benefit.”
TTU and KMU-Cordillera are examining and monitoring the impact of TRAIN in Baguio City. TTU plans to create case studies and an education campaign regarding the matter. KMU-Cordillera also launched an education campaign that will serve as a launching pad for a huge protest on May 1, Labor Day. # nordis.net