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Gov’t urged to address effects of Train Law

Opposition and administration senators yesterday called on Malacañang to address the rising inflation brought about by the effects of the implementation of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law.

“During the Senate deliberations on the Train Law, representatives of the Department of Finance (DoF) promised us that the government would implement an efficient and responsive cash transfer program to ease the inflationary burdens that would be caused by increased excise taxes. The cash transfer program should have been running at full speed by January 1, but so far it has not delivered the intended results,” Sen. Win Gatchalian said.
Sen. Bam Aquino pointed out the same as he expressed alarm over the rapid increase in prices of goods and services.
Aquino renewed his call for the immediate implementation of financial assistance to poor Filipinos following reports that the country’s inflation rate reached four percent, the highest in four years, due to the effects of the Train Law.
“This is the reason I keep pushing the immediate implementation of financial assistance,” he said.
During the measure’s period of amendments in the Senate, Aquino pushed for the immediate implementation of the financial assistance program to help poor Filipinos absorb the expected increase in the prices of goods and services.
His proposal, however, was not accepted.
“The government is failing the Filipino people, especially the impoverished. We must implement a sufficient financial assistance program immediately to cushion the blow of Train and the price increases,” Aquino said.
Gatchalian said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) needs to work harder to deliver the cash to beneficiaries without any further delay.
The government, he said, should immediately implement countermeasures to soften the blow of rising inflation on underprivileged Filipinos and prevent increase in hunger rates across the country.
“Rising inflation is strongly correlated to increasing hunger prevalence among poor and near poor Filipino households,” said Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate committee on economic affairs, noting that more than half (51 percent) of the inflation felt during January can be attributed to food inflation.
“This means that many of our countrymen are in danger of going hungry if the government doesn’t take immediate action to shield them from rising prices,” he added.
When asked for specific action points, the senator said that the government should first fast-track the full implementation of the expanded cash transfer program meant to provide support to 10 million families nationwide.
He also urged the government to file criminal and civil cases against business proprietors who have imposed premature price hikes for oil and basic commodities.
“Those price gougers are committing economic sabotage against the Filipino people. They deserve to be thrown in jail,” Gatchalian said.
Republic Act 10963 mandates financial assistance to 10 million poor Filipinos to counter the expected increase in prices of goods. In 2018, they will receive P200 monthly followed by a P300 monthly cash subsidy in 2019 and 2010.
Recently, Aquino filed Senate Resolution 597, urging the appropriate Senate committee to scrutinize the implementation of the unconditional cash transfer to ensure that it is sufficient to cover the increase in prices of goods and other services.
Aquino also called on the National Economic Development Authority to check if household incomes are enough to absorb these rising costs.

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