Thursday, February 02, 2006

EVAT drains more out of the poor than it promises to give

From the Office of Anakpawis Representative Crispin B. Beltran **

* Reference*: Rep. Crispin Beltran (+63)927.871.1080

Lisa C. Ito, Public Information Officer (+63)927.796.7006

*Tel*. *# (+632) *931-6615 *Email*:



*January 31, 2006 *

* *

*EVAT drains more out of the poor than it promises to give―Rep. Beltran *

*Sharp rise in social unrest if triple whammy of EVAT, oil price hike, and
wage freeze hits the streets*

Calling for an urgent moratorium to the implementation of the additional
Value Added Tax (VAT) tomorrow in light of spiraling world oil prices,
Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran said that "a sharp rise in the current levels
of social unrest would be felt throughout the nation if the triple whammies
of the EVAT, oil price hikes, and wage freeze hit the masses by

"People are infuriated over the fact that the Expanded Value Added Tax will
drain more out of the poor than it promises to give," Beltran said.

"While the Palace estimates that the government can collect around
P35.12billion in revenue collections from EVAT this February, this is
just peanuts
to the P81.4 billion that the Filipino poor will be shelling out from their
gross incomes to pay for the VAT-related increases," Beltran said. Beltran
cited calculations from the labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) yesterday,
which estimate that the additional EVAT would cost an additional
P81.4billion burden for the people, or more than P5,000 per household
this year.

"Where on earth does the Palace expect ordinary workers and farmers to get
that additional P5,000 per year? Especially now, when the measly minimum
wage of P275 a day for private workers alone can not even meet the estimated
P681 daily cost of living for a family of six in the National Capital
Region. Even the Palace's much-publicized call for P13.1B alleviation
allowances for government workers is barely enough to cover the EVAT-related
increases. It's a no-win situation really for our peasants and workers,
whether they be in the private or public spheres," Beltran said.

'The EVAT is an assault on the poor. The people have long been making small
but painful sacrifices―in their daily food, medicine, and operational
budgets--just to make ends meet. The Palace has the insensitivity to demand
more sacrifices and claim that the EVAT's effects will be minimal and
short-term, but does not see the long-term effects on all this scrimping on
the lives of poor Filipinos: neglect of health and nutritional needs, delays
in schooling, tension-related ailments, and more despair over a moribund
economy," he said.

"The Palace is flaunting that it will source its funding for the peoples'
basic investment needs, such as health, housing, and education, from the P35
billion EVAT collections. This is rather short-sighted considering that much
more revenues can be earned by decisively curbing corruption in graft-ridden
agencies such as the Bureau of Customs, which siphon off hundreds of
billions of pesos a year alone; or drastically reducing foreign debt
allocations, which amount to the country's main budgetary expenditure
anyway," Beltran said.

Beltran also slammed "absurd platitudes by the Palace and the Department of
Trade and Industry (TI) that are way out of touch with reality", in response
to their statements that the EVAT would have a 'very slight effect' on the
prices of basic goods.

"If that's the case, then why is the Palace rushing to include sugar―the
prices of which have skyrocketed this week to P39 to P40 per kilo―among the
subsidized goods such as rice and noodles in the "Tindahan Natin" outlets?
The Palace also has yet to answer for calculations from consumer groups that
predict oil price hikes from 60 to 70 centavos to a high of P2.50 to P3 a
liter due to EVAT and steep world oil prices."

Beltran foresees a "sharp rise in social unrest if triple whammy of EVAT,
oil price hike, and wage freeze hits the streets". "Already, the Pinagkaisang
Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) vowed to stage at
least three transport strikes in protest against the EVAT and high oil
prices. There will be definitely more rallies to come if the people can no
longer stomach the pangs of poverty that will accompany EVAT," he ended. ###


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