Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso on Tuesday vowed to work for the return to normalcy of the lives of Filipino people by the end of next year if he is elected president in the 2022 elections.
“I want you [our people] to go back to normal by December 31 of 2022. You can come out already, you can eat outside because you have all been vaccinated with the booster already. Because everybody is protected. I want you to go back to normal.”
“I want your kids to go back to school. I want everyone to go out there. I want us to live before the pandemic hit us,” he said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart.
Domagoso, who is the standard-bearer of the Aksyon Demokratiko, also said he is willing to temporarily reduce government revenues through oil tax cuts to provide immediate relief for the public.
He said the response of the Department of Finance to his proposal to cut excise taxes on oil by 50 percent just proved his point.
“Actually, it’s not massive. It’s just a fraction. If we have a five trillion-peso budget, eight hundred billion more or less is for debt servicing or debt amortization. So, we still have about 4.2 trillion. And if reduced, if I’m not mistaken, the numbers made by the DOF is we’re going to lose P130 billion with that approach,” the mayor explained.
Besides oil tax cuts on petroleum products, Domagoso said he will push through the reduction of excise tax on electricity by 50 percent to further bring down electricity rates and attract foreign investors.
“We have the most expensive electricity cost in the region. Competitive electricity rates will bring in foreign investors, meaning more jobs. That’s my dream, more jobs for Filipinos,” he said.
Once elected president, Domagoso said he will work closely with Congress in legislating the tax measures at the soonest possible time.
“I am going to be reasonable with the new set of congressmen and the new senators. I want the action to be that fast. I want legislation in 30 days, I want you to feel that there is a government that will take care of you immediately because laws can be passed in 30 days. And I can do it when I say 30 days. And I believe they (Congress) are reasonable persons also,” he said.
Apart from his immediate priorities when elected president, Domagoso said the strategy of slashing taxes has been effective in Manila, greatly helping the capital city stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When businesses began shutting down due to the health crisis, the city government began imposing tax holidays and amnesties to prevent additional closures and further loss of employment.
“As for me, I have a stronger vision to do that. Shouldn’t the government be tolerant during the pandemic? Can you imagine if I had P130 billion that could be returned to the people because of the government’s decision to reduce the excise taxes by 50 percent?” Domagoso said.
Citing city records, the mayor earlier said that seven percent of Manila businesses closed due to the health crisis, but thanks to the tax measures, the total of Manila businesses went up by 12 percent.
Besides, he said the end-result of the delayed gratification principle is still favorable to the government since it will enable people to spend more by increasing their purchasing power.
“Since the government has given up the revenues that it had expected to collect, the people’s pockets have thickened. And if a person’s pockets get bigger, all they have to do is buy food, clothes, watch a movie, take the child, the grandchild for a walk.”
“This means the money will still end up in the government coffers as public spending will mean more revenues to the government,” Domagoso stressed.