Press Release
May 5, 2008


Senator Mar Roxas lauded Congress' ratification of the Affordable Medicines Law last week, as he called for the fast-tracking of other priority measures in both chambers.

"One down, two to go. The recent approval of the Affordable Medicines Law shows that we can summon the political will when needed. I call on the House to now work with the Senate to pass the bill to exempt minimum wage earners from income taxes as soon as possible, and to suspend the VAT [value-added tax] on oil products to help our people cope with the record-high oil prices," said Roxas, Chairman of the Committee on Trade and Commerce.

The Senator noted that the proposed exemption for minimum wage earners had, along with the Affordable Medicines Law, been prioritized during the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting last April 22.

During these discussions, two methods of providing tax relief for low-wage earners were given: Roxas' proposal to amend the Tax Code by stating that minimum wage earners would not pay income taxes as found in Senate Bill No. 103, or the restructuring of the income tax system and the raising of personal exemptions as proposed by the House.

"While I commend the House's desire to reevaluate the entire income tax system, the inherent complexities in its proposal could lead to further delays in the passage of these amendments. Swift approval of a bill for tax exemptions for minimum wage earners would not bar the passage of a more comprehensive law on the income tax structure," Roxas said.

The Liberal Party President also said the need for a suspension of VAT on petroleum products was becoming more and more evident, with New York crude having already reached the $119 per barrel level, and Dubai crude having reached $108 per barrel.

"Our oil companies are now telling us they will have to adjust their local rates by another P5 to P7. Sa bawat piso na itinataas ng diesel, treinta pesos ang nawawala sa kita ng jeepney driver. Ano ang balak ng pamahalaan para matulungan ang ating mga kababayan? Hanggang ngayon, sa kabila ng oil and rice summits, hindi pa rin malinaw kung ano ang plano ng gobyerno para mabigyan ng kaunting ginhawa ang ating mga mamamayan," Roxas said.

"No less than the people's welfare and the country's stability are at stake. We face the inevitability of more transport strikes, a slowdown in the economy and further erosion in the purchasing power of every household. The triple whammy of higher oil, food and energy prices requires a more responsive and decisive government," he added.

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