Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said 2019 is a year of “great achievements” for the Department of Finance.
He said these achievements included revenue and dividend collections and the pursuit in Congress of the remaining packages of the comprehensive tax reform program that would help the government fund priority programs on infrastructure and human capital development.
Dominguez said in his message during the DOF’s yearend party the agency managed to pursue policy reforms that resulted in a palpable improvement in the lives of the Filipino people.
“The task of bringing forth change is a long and painful one. We will have to deal with the vagaries of our politics, the inertia of the bureaucracy, and the resistance of those who would rather have things stay as they are,” Dominguez said.
“The reforms we seek to achieve will require resilience, endurance, and persistence. I ask you to remain firm in the tasks we have to accomplish, especially next year as we push for the remaining packages of the tax reform program,” he said.
Among the DOF’s accomplishments in 2019 were the passage of the tobacco tax reform bill, the increased revenues from taxes and cash dividends remitted by government-owned- and -controlled corporations, the progress in the remaining CTRP packages sent to the Congress and the highly concessional loan financing sealed for projects under President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature “Build, Build, Build” program.
He also mentioned the country’s credit rating upgrade of “BBB plus” and the successful offshore issuance of bonds with tight spreads over the benchmarks, along with the collection of taxes from errant Philippine online gaming operators service providers and their foreign employees. Julito G. Rada
“All the hard work we put in to reform our policies and build an inclusive economy have resulted in a palpable improvement in the lives of our people,” Dominguez said.
He said the Duterte administration was well on track to achieving what had seemed at first as an ambitious goal of bringing poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022 down from 23.3 percent in 2015, as evidenced by official data showing that 5.9 million Filipinos were lifted out of poverty in three years. This means poverty incidence dropped to 16.6 percent in 2018 from the previous rate in 2015.
Dominguez said the Duterte presidency was able to pass the Rice Tariffication Law after three decades of other administrations trying to do so. The RTL reduced the price of rice for over 100 million Filipino consumers and will boost the productivity of palay farmers through the establishment of the annual P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund mandated under the law.
He also said the Duterte administration embarked on tax reform without being compelled by a looming fiscal crisis and significantly increased investments in infrastructure from a mere 2.5 percent of GDP for over 50 years, to above 5 percent of GDP with dramatic results.
Dominguez said that by 2022, the government would be investing 7 percent of GDP in modernizing the country’s logistics backbone which would enable the Philippines to catch up with the rest of the region and further sharpen its global competitiveness.