Press Release
March 30, 2010

Pia: "Don't use Expanded Senior Citizens Act to justify new taxes"

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today cautioned the financial managers of the Arroyo government to stop using the newly-passed Republic Act 9994, or the "Expanded Senior Citizens Act" (ESCA), to justify the administration's calls for the passage of new tax measures.

Cayetano, who is running for a second term in the Senate under the Nacionalista Party, pointed out that government's projected losses under ESCA at P1.6 billion remains miniscule compared to the national government's annual tax collections.

She explained that estimated losses from ESCA do not even amount to one percent of the combined collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs at P600 billion every year.

The lady senator, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice and principal author of RA 9994, was reacting to calls by Finance Secretary for the 15th Congress to pass new tax bills to boost the government's revenue generation efforts.

The finance secretary reportedly attributed government's falling revenues to the passage of several tax exemption measures in the 14th Congress, including Value-Added Tax (VAT) exemption for senior citizens under RA 9994.

"Our finance managers should first focus on raising more funds in their own backyard instead of training their guns on our poor senior citizens. Billions continue to be lost to corruption, overpriced projects and poor tax collection due to smuggling and evasion. The ESCA has yet to be implemented, but they're already using it to justify the passage of more taxes," she said.

She continued: "In fact, the projected 'losses' from exempting our elders from VAT should not be considered a loss at all because the amount will positively translate to increased purchasing power and better health and well-being for our senior citizens."

"The government should also abandon its plan to impose additional burden on taxpayers who have been unwittingly made to subsidize unabated corruption in the current administration for the past decade. Taxpayers have yet to see the government filing charges vs. big-time smugglers, tax evaders and corrupt government officials. They should squarely address that."

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