Consumer group TXTPower today flatly rejected calls by Malacanang to “revise” the text tax bill approved by the House committee on ways and means, demanding no less than the complete scrapping of the proposed revenue measure.
“The correct and moral position is to junk the text tax. At a time of crisis, the least the government could do is not to add to the daily burdens of consumers,” said TXTPower president Anthony Ian Cruz.
“Five centavos per text may be too small for Rep. Danilo Suarez and Malacanang, but for the majority who are already overtaxed and overstressed by the daily terror of trying to survive on shrinking incomes, any new tax is unacceptable. Ordinary Filipinos are unlike Rep. Danilo Suarez who can whimsically treat the President to a $15,000 dinner,” said Cruz.
According to Cruz, “not only did the House had the nerve to lie about the so-called no-pass-on provision which does not exist in the approved bill, it is insulting the public by trying to make us all believe that such a provision will prevent telcos from doing accounting hocus-pocus to pass on the text tax to consumers.”
Cruz emphasized that ordinary Filipinos, especially consumers, already pay 12 percent VAT on products and services, including prepaid cellphone load and postpaid subscriptions.
“We reject and detest the callous implication by text tax proponents that because we say no, we are purportedly against improving our nation’s schools. The right question to ask on this is, how is the government spending our taxes?” Cruz said. “We do not get a full return and a transparent accounting of taxes we pay this corrupt and inefficient government.”
“The Arroyo administration is perhaps the only government in the world to push for a new and regressive tax in the middle of a worldwide economic crisis,” said Cruz. “Instead of helping the people through safety nets, the Arroyo government wants to kill the people through a new tax.”
Turning the tables at Malacanang and Congress, TXTPower said consumers should demand that government fulfill its mandate to protect consumers.
“We want a return out of the VAT we pay. Some of the things we want to see is for Congress to take steps to lower prices of cellphone calls and text, to improve services provided by the telcos and to prosecute those who abuse consumers,” said Cruz.
“The President and Congress should cut down their wanton spending, reallocate portions of the budget like debt servicing and pork barrel to social services, and publish their income tax returns. These government officials who are mostly rich always pick on the poor but they may not be giving their own fair share in taxes,” Cruz said.
TXTPower said that, for a change, the Arroyo goverment should impose one percent or even half of a percent income tax hike on the country Top 1,000 Companies in the spirit of solidarity and social justice and spare the poor from any new taxes.
The group earlier suggested the rechanneling of P34-billion or 10 percent of the P340-billion allotment for debt service, P4-million from each congressman’s pork barrel allocation and a portion of discretionary funds — all towards purchasing or upgrading of computers for the nation’s schools.
Cruz said that TXTPower will announce on Monday a series of protest actions against the text tax.
Joining consumers in the fight against the text tax are Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Arroyo economic adviser Joey Salceda, several other senators and congressmen and even the telcos.