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PIA Press Release

Commentary: No turning back on EVAT

By Henry S. Lagasca

San Fernando City, La Union (30 July) -- In her eight State of the Nation Address (SONA) the other day, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo conceded her bold fiscal policy, referring to the Expanded Value-Added Tax (EVAT) law, had brought "more unpopularity for myself in the opinion polls."

PGMA stood pat and spurned calls for the scrapping of the controversial EVAT saying the Philippines was shielded what she described as a "terrible tsunami" of global uncertainty. Thus, the President declared there was no turning back on fiscal reforms to keep the national economy in shape.

President Arroyo also thanked the taxpayers for "footing the bill". As a taxpayer, may I say "Thank you, too, Madame President, for releasing billions of pesos from the EVAT windfall in helping our poor countrymen" cope with skyrocketing prices of fuel and food.

There's no gainsaying the fact that Ms. Arroyo had earmarked funds from the EVAT which had improved many infrastructure facilities in poor provinces, given out cash subsidies in various pro-poor projects, college scholarships, loans to the poor and relief and financial assistance to victims of calamities and disasters.

As a reaction to the controversial EVAT, Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said that his impression was that "the poor and the masa who are the direct beneficiaries of the EVAT law are either uninformed or being misled and manipulated."

Dureza said that there must be an effort "to inform the public about the reforms the President continues to do."

The move is a welcome proposition to tackle head-on the issue of the EVAT and transform minuses into pluses by focusing on the benefits derived from the revenue measure.

Stressing, but not being redundant, the Press Secretary's word when he said "join us", all the advocates of the masa, particularly at this time of crisis, are called upon to give a helping hand in the urgent need to launch a massive information drive on the controversial EVAT to clear cynical minds which refuses to accept the fact that the Filipino people are assured of its long-tern benefits at this time of global crisis where everyone is a victim. (PIA Region 1) [top]

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