By NORWIN GONZALES
BAGUIO CITY — Women all across the country might not have the capacity to celebrate International Women’s Month as keeping up a household becomes a far more difficult task due to higher prices of goods and services.
Late December last year, Congress railroaded the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train Law). The following month, the people had begun experiencing its effects.
In a forum on the law that was held in the University of the Philippines – Baguio, the Miriam Grafil of the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) presented the effects of Train in the lives women and ordinary citizens.
Price hikes heavy on the pocket
As soon as the law took effect on January 1 of this year, prices soared leaving consumers reaching for their pockets only to find them empty.
The case study by Grafil of CWR was based on a household in Valenzuela City in Metro Manila. It compared prices prior to and after the Train law took effect.
A household, which needs rice, fish, coffee, sugar and salt, will have to pay an added P56 each day, totaling to P1680 a month.
Interviews conducted by Innabuyog-GABRIELA with mothers in Cordillera communities reveal that price hikes are somewhere from P5-P15 per item. Their children, who get to drink milk three times a week, decreased their consumption to once a week to the detriment of their health.
Tilapia and bangus increased prices from P120 to P150.
On schooling expenses, tricycle fare is up from P10 to 15 and cost of boarding rises from P1000-P1500.
The Duterte administration’s P200-peso/month unconditional cash transfer is not enough to carry the burden of rising costs.
Grafil called on the government regarding the use of the lowering of personal income tax (PIT) as a ‘marketing strategy’ to make the Train law more acceptable to the affected.
However, a huge number of Filipinos are not set to benefit from this lowering simply because they do not pay the PIT.
According to the Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), although the Train law would supposedly benefit five million Filipinos, tens of millions of minimum wage-earners are to experience the effects of the excise tax on petroleum products, sweetened beverages and other commodities.
“There is no gain for the self-employed and unpaid family workers because they do not, in the first place, pay the income tax,” said GWP’s statement.
Mothers and other family workers, who make up a group of 6-7 million nationwide, have to suffer the effects of heightened prices, and cancellation of tax exemptions for families. They are expected to draw up a budget enough for the family with the measly amount they produce.
Taxes should fund social services
The Train law is part of the comprehensive tax reform program under the Duterte’s Socioeconomic Agenda, an agenda which is supported by big businesses and corporations and which, like previous economic programs, focuses heavily on privatization schemes.
The current effects felt by citizens is only the first of five parts, that is Package 1A of five.
Package 1B, according to Grafil will focus on the lowering of corporate taxes.
The Train law was also meant to generate funding for Duterte’s “Build. Build. Build.” Infrastructure campaign that aims to build highways, superhighways, train routes among others.
“However, these do not match with what is truly needed by the people, the women especially in the countryside. What we need are more farm-to-market roads, hospitals, schools and decent housing for the Filipino people,” Grafil ended. # nordis.net