Trade chief assures TRAIN won’t cause drastic rise in prices

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 January) – The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) will not significantly impact on the prices of basic commodities, Trade secretary Ramon M. Lopez said.

Lopez led the price monitoring at supermarkets of Victoria Plaza and Gaisano Mall of Davao on Friday to see if TRAIN has any effect on the movement of prices of basic commodities.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez monitors prices of basic commodities at a mall in Davao City on January 12, 2018. MindaNews photo by ANTONIO L. COLINA IV

He allayed fears that prices will shoot up with the implementation of the tax reform program due to the P2.50 per liter excise tax on petroleum which is expected to cause an increase in transport cost.

He said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will continue to monitor the supermarkets across the country to ensure they won’t sell goods beyond the suggested retail price.

He said the manufacturers promised not to increase prices of commodities since the hike brought about by the new tax rates is negligible and will increase prices only by 5 centavos.

He said the 5-centavo increase would not be felt by consumers since manufacturers and supermarkets would lower their prices due to competition.

“Wala talaga syang effect. Ang impact on gasoline hindi ganun ka laki, napakaliit lang (There’s really no effect. The impact of gasoline is not really big. It has very little effect),” he said.

DTI 11 director Maria Belenda Ambi said prices of basic commodities should not exceed 10 percent of the SRP, otherwise they will issue storeowners a show cause order to explain the excessive hike.

She said the hike in prices will be evident on cola drinks since these are not basic and prime commodities.

“We can opt not to consume cola,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mindanao Business Council chair Vicente Lao said the tax reform program will allow the government to benable the Philippines to keep pace with its ASEAN neighbors.

MBC chair Vicente T. Lao said TRAIN will allow the government to boost the budget for its “Build, Build, Build” program and social services, and enable the country to keep pace with its ASEAN neighbors.

Lao, new chair of the BIMP-EAGA Business Council, is pushing for the immediate implementation of the 1,500-km Mindanao Railway System to bring down the logistics cost because “that will be a big boost to the agricultural productivity of the island, mining, construction and many others.”

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. president Arturo Milan said he believes the tax reform program is good not only for businesses but also for the public in general.

“While there are some flaws in the program but generally it is good especially to the low income earners because they will get more take home pay with the reduction of tax rate,” he said.

He said it would “promote healthy lifestyle,” apparently pertaining to the slight increase in the prices of sugar and other sweetened products, including beverages.

“Besides, taxes are needed for government to be able to deliver social services and build infrastructure for the country’s development. As long as every peso of tax is well spent, it will always be good for the people,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)