TRAIN is no ride home for OFWs
The new TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) Act will bring about the reverse of President Duterte’s electoral promise of encouraging overseas Filipino workers to go back to the Philippines for good.
Instead of sending us home, TRAIN will keep us abroad for a long time while also sending millions more just so we can answer the needs of our families.
Yet again, the burden of President Duterte’s kowtowing to foreign lords and local oligarchs will have to be borne by poor and ordinary Filipinos including OFWs who are mostly the main breadwinners of their households back home.
Touted as the Duterte administration’s “best Christmas gift to Filipinos,” TRAIN took effect earlier this year. The generated income from TRAIN will be used for the “Build, build, build” program of the administration that is set to benefit rich contractors and foreign companies who will be involved in the megainfrastructure projects that are to be built not in poorest regions but mainly where big foreign companies are operating.
Immediately, TRAIN’s impact on prices is already being felt. In the next months, rates of public utilities, as well as transportation are also set to increase. Food prices will also be soaring up as additional taxes on oil impact production and distribution.
Such increases will have grave impacts on OFWs who are already facing indebtedness, high recruitment fees, depressed or minimally increased wages abroad, high fees for government requirements and difficulties in ensuring the education and health needs — social needs that are not provided by the
government — of their children.
To add insult to injury, TRAIN doubles the documentary stamp tax (60 centavos now from 30 centavos) for every P200 of remittance sent to the Philippines. This will definitely eat into the usual amount we send to our families already challenged to make ends meet with the effect of TRAIN on prices of commodities.
To supposedly mitigate the impact, a cash dole-out program is going to be implemented which, with the current rotten corrupt system, will be just a source for more plunder and anomalies. It will also be a temporary patch as the strategic economic capacity of the people is not enhanced.
TRAIN responds to the neoliberal push of foreign powers, chiefly the US government, who want to lessen the costs of business transactions and pass it on to the consumers.
In the end, President Duterte’s TRAIN will lead the Philippine economy to more wreckage and further perpetuate the country’s dependence on remittance and overseas labor export: another broken promise of the President in the interest of new and old elites in the country.
EMAN VILLANUEVA, Chair, Bayan Hong Kong and Macau, firstname.lastname@example.org
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