Provisions of the newly signed 2018 national budget and the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Act could be vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte following recommendations by the Budget department.
“[W[e have submitted the draft of the veto message to the President … although we cannot tell you now which items … [in the budget were]recommended for the veto,” Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno told reporters on Wednesday.
“[T]hat is also true for the Train, there will be some items that will be vetoed. So let’s just wait, let’s not speculate on one item. It’s a very long memo to the President,” he added.
“Maybe in a day or two, or before the end of the day [we]will get the message.”
The Constitution allows the president to order line item vetoes for appropriations, revenue or tariff measures, Diokno explained.
The P3.76 trillion national budget is 12.4 percent higher than the 2017 budget and equivalent to 21.6 percent of gross domestic product.
Social services remains the largest sectoral allocation at P1.42 trillion, a 5.5 percent increase from the 2017 outlay and primarily driven by planned spending on education and healthcare as well as social security, social welfare and employment safety nets.
The Train Act, meanwhile, provides for higher personal income tax exemptions but also raised taxes on car sales and fuel products among others as the Duterte government moves to implement its ambitious “Build Build Build” infrastructure program
The Department of Finance has claimed that preliminary computations show the government will be giving “almost P150 billion” back to the people in the form of tax relief, while at the same time raising “significant revenues” that will fund priority programs that will help reduce poverty from 21.6 percent to a targeted 14 percent by 2022.
BY MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO, TMT
DECEMBER 21, 2017
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