Philippines' Aquino: No new taxes if elected president
CEBU, Philippines - Philippine Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, frontrunner in the presidential race, said he may consider raising taxes if elected if the budget gap was not cut quickly by moves to crack down on tax evasion.
Aquino, son of the country's revered democracy icon Corazon "Cory" Aquino who died last year, vowed to arrest tax dodgers and big smugglers in a campaign that he hopes would collect P150 billion ($3.3 billion) in unrealized taxes.
He said he would strengthen an existing carrot-and-stick mechanism at the country's two main tax agencies to raise the Philippines' perennially weak revenues.
Aquino, a first-time senator and economics graduate from the Ateneo de Manila University, said he wanted to see if measures to plug tax leaks were taking effect before imposing new taxes.
"If there is an ability to manage the deficit without raising new taxes, then we will continue that policy," Aquino told Reuters late on Saturday before joining a campaign rally in Cebu province in central Philippines.
When asked how long it would take before he decided to consider raising new taxes if elected president in the May 10 polls, Aquino said: "I think six months would be too long, one would want it to be shorter than that."
Aquino's comments were meant to soothe market worries that he did not grasp the urgency of raising state revenues, with the Philippines possibly facing a record budget deficit for a second year in a row in 2010.
Such concerns emerged after he said in his first speech on economic policy last month that he would not impose new taxes or increase tax rates if elected.
WB suggests Philippines to raise oil taxes to boost revenues
The Philippine government should raise gasoline excise taxes to raise revenues, support its fiscal stimulus program and limit its widening budget deficit, the World Bank said.
"Increasing petroleum excises would produce...