Press Release
September 30, 2020

Drilon thumbs down plan to hike or impose new tax by 2021
'The minority chief says that the government can dispose of public assets to generate funds to repay the country's growing debts due to Covid-19 pandemic'

Instead of burdening the Filipino people with new or higher taxes next year, the government should proceed with the sale of government properties and the privatization of the gaming industry to repay the debts incurred on Covid-19 response, according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon.

Drilon said he will strongly oppose any plan by the country's economic managers to impose new tax or raise taxes by 2021.

"We will oppose it. We are still grappling with the impact of the pandemic today and we do not see our country to begin recovery until the third quarter of 2021 for them to talk about raising and imposing new taxes by next year," said Drilon.

Drilon echoed the projections made by reputable financial institutions that the Philippines's recovery from the impact of the pandemic can only begin by the third quarter of 2021.

"To raise or impose new taxes next year will be counterproductive and it will only be an added burden to Filipinos and businesses who are striving hard to get back on their feet," said Drilon.

Drilon noted that there are still 90,000 business establishments that remain close to this day, most of them are micro, small and medium enterprise, 7.3 million Filipinos who lost jobs to the pandemic, and 7.7 million families who are hungry.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told the Senate finance committee last week that they will start looking at additional revenues to pay for the heavy indebtedness the country incurred during the pandemic. The government's foreign borrowings due to Covid-19 stands at US$9.9 billion to date.

"Rather than talk about new taxes, the government can generate funds to pay our debts through the long overdue sale of government assets and privatization of the gaming industry," Drilon stressed.

The Senate chief fiscalizer said to help the government generate money to repay its growing debt obligations, it can dispose of public assets such as Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame.

President Rodrigo Duterte, at the onset of the pandemic, discussed the possibility of selling the properties of the government "as a last resort" to generate funds to combat the coronavirus disease 2019, citing the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the Philippine International Convention Center.

"Why resort to raising taxes when we can generate funds by selling government properties and privatizing the gaming industry?" he said.

Drilon also said the privatization of the gaming industry can yield billions of pesos, recalling the estimates made by the finance secretary that privatizing the gaming industry can yield around P300 billion in additional revenues yearly.

Drilon said that the law that he authored, the GOCC Governance Act, allows the President to amend the charter of state-owned corporations, including PAGCOR and PCSO, without going to Congress.

"We must put more money in people's pockets, not take their hard-earned money by raising taxes," he said. "A tax hike or a new tax will further hurt the people and the businesses during this extraordinary time in our history as a nation."

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