Wages of economic ignorance

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THE DUTERTE administration is nearing the first half of its term and it seems committed to rolling out anti-poor policies and worse, putting the blame on others for the “uncontrollable” rise in the country’s inflation rate.

The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law claims to make the country’s tax system “simpler, fairer and more efficient” by helping the working class, especially the minimum wage earners take home a larger disposable income. But is it really living up to its purpose or is it making the poor even poorer?

The law exempts Filipinos who earn an annual income of P250,000 and below from paying income tax. Other inclusion of this law is often forgotten such as the increase of the price of oil, which results in a higher transportation fee and increase in excise tax.

This exemption does not help the poor as while they are exempt from paying the income tax, the excise and fuel taxes going up will badly affect them as well.

Train Law also poses a negative impact on other workers such as the country’s farmers. It lowers their income by 10 percent due to higher fuel prices that result in an increase in production cost.

If the current administration wants to help the Filipinos especially the poor, then the suspension of Train law would be a step forward in accomplishing it.

It would be best for the government to exhaust its energies in improving social services like affordable medical facilities, better health care, food subsidies and subsidized housing.

The past few months have seen a record-breaking inflation rate, with the highest reaching 6.4 percent in August, similar to what the country had in 2009.

It is true that the Train Law promotes consumption, but it is not completely to blame for the increase in prices.

Rather, it is the government’s mishandling of its priorities that has gotten us into this mess–-with the President seemingly interested only in solving the country’s drug problem that has resulted in the death of thousands, politicizing the Congress and Supreme Court, and jailing those who express dissent for the policies of his administration.

If only our government officials listened to the needs of our people, and as well as to their professors in college during their basic economic lectures, this would not have happened.

Rice crisis
It is ironic that the Philippines was once one of the largest producers and exporters of rice in the world. The International Rice Research Institute is even housed in Laguna.

But recently, we have been hit by rice shortage mainly due to the shortage of stocks that the National Food Authority (NFA) is supposed to keep in its inventory.

And as a stunt to disprove this, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol had to eat “bukbok” rice on live national television to prove a point, which he tried doing so in a humiliating way.

The NFA’s negligence has clearly contributed to the rising inflation that the country is experiencing which results to higher prices of commercial rice.

The administration should take it as a signal that there is an anomaly going on and implement reforms in the institution.

But what sense of accountability can we expect from this government?

Maybe if they had only paid more attention to the economic situation of our country instead of politicking, we would not be in this situation.

Because in all of this, it is the poorest of the poor which takes the hardest hit and suffers the most for the blunder of this government’s failures.

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