P-Noy open to toll hike, higher sin tax

President Noynoy Aquino is pushing for the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) toll hike, supposedly effective on August 16 but postponed through a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court on August 13, reports SunStar.com.ph. "Our first priority is the SLEX, the impending 250-percent increase." He said the 12-percent Value Added Tax (VAT) to be added to the toll rates, also postponed by a TRO, was put on hold last week because it is "subject to a lot of discussions."

Regarding the Aquino administration’s promise to avoid imposing additional taxes, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said they are only implementing what the previous administration "arbitrarily suspended." He said, according to The Philippine Star, "In the short term, we’d rather be unpopular because in the long term, we know we will be using those funds for poverty alleviation and other programs of the government."

The SunStar.com.ph report said the President will discuss the implementation of the 250-percent toll fee increase with Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares.

Saksi report on the two temporary restraining orders issued by the Supreme Court that postponed the SLEX toll fee increase.

The President, a known smoker, is also open to increasing sin taxes particularly cigarette tax, but not this year, according to The Philippine Star. "At this point in time, we have not been advised that there is a necessity (to increase sin taxes)." He said the proposal to increase cigarette tax to P90 per 20-stick pack did not come from Health Secretary Enrique Ona, and that Ona’s competence is "in the health (sector), not the finance sector," as phrased by The Philippine Star.

For more on this story, log on to SunStar.com.ph and The Philippine Star.

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