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Malacañang stands firm on 12% VAT on toll

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang yesterday stood firm on the implementation of the 12 percent value added tax (VAT) on toll amid mounting opposition from transport and consumer groups.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte maintained the impact of the VAT on toll would not be as much as claimed.

Citing computations by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Valte said only P0.042 would be added to the cost of one egg sold by a supplier that would pass though any of the toll ways.

“Some (groups) in the transportation (sector) said they would increase their fares by 70 percent. But based on computations o the BIR, the impact of the VAT would not be that huge,” Valte said.

She said the Department of Trade and Industry would continue to monitor the prices of goods to ensure that these are reasonably priced.

BIR Commissioner Kim Henares said the VAT on toll would be imposed on motorists starting Oct. 1.

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The government decided to finally impose the tax after the Supreme Court lifted last July a temporary restraining order that barred the BIR from imposing the VAT on toll.

The tax is expected to bring billions in additional revenues to the government, which is facing a P290-billion deficit this year.

Henares said the VAT on toll would have “minimal impact” on the prices of basic commodities.

She said those who claim that the VAT on toll would lead to significant fare hikes are just taking advantage of the imposition of the tax.

To express their opposition to the toll VAT, transport operators and consumer groups on Thursday launched a caravan that took off in Makati City and passed through the Southern Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Southern Tagalog Arterial Road (STAR) tollways.

The caravan was attended by the Southern Luzon Bus Operators Association (SOLUBOA), the National Council for Commuter Protection (NCCP) and the Batangas provincial government.

Batangas Vice Gov. Mark Leviste led the caravan that passed through the highways in Sta. Rosa in Laguna, Sto. Tomas town in Batangas, Malvar, Tanauan, Lipa, Ibaan and Batangas City.

Critics of the VAT on toll claimed that it is a form of a double taxation and does not conform to the intent of the law.

SOLUBOA claimed that the VAT on toll could raise bus fares by 70 percent.

SOLUBOA official Josephine Ladrillono said bus operators are already paying P400 in toll fees from the Magallanes interchange to Batangas. She said the rate could balloon to about P700 once the tax is imposed.

NCCP said consumers would be burdened by the tax as this could raise the price of goods from the provinces.

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