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Diokno sees unemployment decline amid TRAIN

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s unemployment rate is expected to decline following the implementation of the newly enacted tax reform law this year, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said yesterday.

In an interview, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno assured the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act would not cause massive displacement of Filipinos, particularly in affected industries.

On the contrary, Diokno said the TRAIN would create a multiplier effect in the economy, which, in turn, would reduce unemployment rate in the country.

For one, the budget chief said additional government revenue to be generated under the first tax reform law is intended to bankroll its massive infrastructure program.

He said the Duterte administration’s massive infrastructure program would present more job opportunities to Filipinos.

Diokno also cited the alleviation measures the government would implement under the TRAIN, such as the Jeepney Modernization Program.

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“We are going to modernize jeepneys. That’s also employment right? You have more money in your pocket. You will buy, so that will create a multiplier effect,” he said.

According to the preliminary results of the 2017 Annual Labor Force Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority, the country’s unemployment rate slightly rose to 5.7 percent last year from the estimated 5.5 percent in 2016.

Based on available data as of October 2017, unemployment also went up to five percent from the 4.7 percent recorded in  the same month the previous year.

Republic Act  10963 or the TRAIN Act, which contains Package 1A of the administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), aims to simplify the country’s tax system by lowering personal income tax rates.

It also seeks to adjust excise taxes of fuel, automobile, coal and sugar-sweetened beverages, and expand the tax base by removing the value-added tax exemptions.

Earlier, the Department of Finance (DOF), citing estimates from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said the CTRP is expected to create about half a million jobs over the next six years and could lift about 250,000 Filipinos out of poverty.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez had said about 70 percent of the incremental revenue from the TRAIN would be earmarked for the government’s Build Build Build program.

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