Consumer group TXTPower today called on consumers to prepare for a taxpayers’ revolt over a new tax to be imposed on text messaging and warned reelectionists in Congress they will pay dearly for making life even harder amid the worldwide economic crisis.
“To rebel against this new tax is justified,” said TXTPower president Anthony Ian Cruz. “Consumers, all taxpayers, expect the House plenary and the Senate to vote down this new tax.”
TXTPower stressed that the Arroyo government already imposes a 12-percent VAT on all mobile phone services.
“For example, the Arroyo government charges VAT amounting to P3.60 for every P30 electronic load, P36.00 for every P300 call card, P144 for every P1,200 monthly postpaid subscription fee,” Cruz explained.
Cruz said that, as an alternative, Congress can still get P36-billion without imposing a new tax in three steps: By reallocating P4-million from each congressman’s pork barrel, P10-million from the Office of the President and 10 percent from the budget intended for debt servicing.
“It is a question of priorities,” said Cruz. “Government has money but both Malacanang and Congress have the wrong priorities which include, for instance, the setting aside of over P340-billion for paying domestic and foreign debt, including fraudulently-acquired ones, apart from billions of pesos are lost due to inefficiency, corruption and wasteful spending such as the expensive and lavish junkets of the President who is always accompanied by hordes of congressmen in her foreign travels.”
According to official records, Arroyo has spent close to P2.7-billion for travel expenses for the past five years alone.
Suarez paid for $15,000 dinner
Cruz reminded the public that it was House ways and means committee chairman Danilo Suarez, main proponent of the text tax, who paid for Arroyo’s $15,000 dinner in Washington DC.
“People like Suarez apparently do not know or do not care about the burdens and hardships faced by families. He wants a tax at this time, no matter what,” said Cruz. “New taxes and lavish dinners go together under this administration. They are so callous in the face of national suffering.”
TXTPower said that “Congress must exercise restraint in looking for ways and means to finance government programs and operations. New taxes are obviously both uncreative and anti-people.”
According to Cruz, if the House passes the text tax bill in a plenary vote set for next week, TXTPower plans to submit the name of the House of Representatives to the Guinness Book of World Records for its record of arguably the first and only legislative body to enact a new tax measure amid the worldwide recession.
“We would submit the names of all congressmen who will vote for this new tax,” said Cruz. “I am sure their constituents would consider that when they vote in 2010.”
TXTPower said that the group is “all for an increase in budgetary outlay for social services like education and health. But Congress is obviously misusing its ‘power of the purse’ when it decides to impose a new tax and not trim down portions of the national budget that ought to be pruned like their pork barrel and the President’s, and the consistently huge allocations for debt service.”