House leader wants President Aquino to certify VAST bill as urgent

A ranking House leader urges President Aquino to certify as urgent House Bill 3850, which seeks to impose a Value Simplified Tax (VAST) in lieu of the Value Added Tax (VAT).

In a letter to the President dated January 17, 2011, Rep. Hermilando Mandanas (2nd District, Batangas), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means said the VAST will encourage the “bayanihan” spirit of sharing and engender an equitable distribution of the tax burden, between the private sector and the public consumer.

“With the VAST, we believe that your administration will be true to its word Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap! Through your leadership, we in the House of Representatives are able to best serve the Filipino nation,” Mandanas said.

Mandanas said the house body had exhaustive hearings and consultations on the VAST bill and “it is unfortunate that Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima nor the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs Commissioners did not attend its deliberations.”

“The Department of Finance is not supportive of the VAST bill but would rather increase the VAT from 12% to 15% and repeal the senior Citizen’s exemption from the VAT, which we believe will be more burdensome to the Filipino taxpayer,” said Mandanas.

The committee approved on December 7, 2010 the VAST bill which is an equitable revenue generating measure that reduces the direct tax payment of the consumer from a VAT rate of 12% to a lower VAST rate of 6%.

Mandanas stressed the VAST bill is the House of Representatives’ contribution to the administration’s effort to lower the budget deficit.

“The VAST measure also sends a concrete and clear message that the Aquino Administration is sensitive to the needs of the ordinary Filipino taxpayer by reducing their direct tax burden,” Mandanas said.

Mandanas said the primary feature of the VAST is the removal of the Input Tax Credit System, which provides occasions for graft and corruption, thereby eroding the revenue collection of the government.

“The VAST will reduce graft and corruption which was perpetuated by the complicated system and paperwork under the Input Tax Credit System, which is vulnerable to corruption with the use of fake or re-cycled receipts, repeated tax credit claims, or the understatement of sales, and is exacerbated by weak, inefficient and ineffective
monitoring and auditing,” Mandanas said.

“It also aims to increase the national government’s revenue. “The VAST will potentially generate an incremental revenue of not less than P50 billion with both the private sector and the end-consumer sharing the burden of paying the tax,” said Mandanas.

Mandanas likewise assured the President that the VAST will not increase the prices of essential goods and services. “

“The VAST will also continue to attract investors, with the VAST features, primarily the exemptions it provides, to continue to be business friendly,” Mandanas said. D’jay Lazaro

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