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Labor candidate for President to fund recovery with wealth tax

LABOR LEADER and Presidential candidate Leodigario Q. de Guzman said his P1-trillion recovery plan will be financed by a one-time 20% wealth tax on the 500 richest families in the Philippines, with relief measures to be focused on workers in financial distress due to the pandemic.

“We are very confident that our campaign will touch the hearts and minds of our countrymen,” he told BusinessWorld in a Viber message. “With the help of a free and independent mass media, we will be able to get our message of real change across.”

He expects his platform to be blocked by “old and backward political forces” who have “long protected and advanced the interests of billionaires and big businesses,” and is counting on support for his plan from independent workers.

The recovery plan will include a P475-billion public jobs generation program, P400 billion in health stimulus, and P125 billion for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), all designed to address the public health and livelihood crises.

“We cannot primarily rely on the private sector to revive the economy. ‘Trickle-down economics’ is a sham. Its promise of poverty alleviation as a by-product of business growth is untrue,” he said in English and Filipino in a statement Saturday.

The P475-billion jobs program, he said, is expected to create 2.45 million jobs, reducing the unemployment rate by half. Targeted jobs include barangay health workers, forest rangers and forest biodiversity caretakers, teaching assistants and school personnel, agriculture workers, construction workers, and builders workers involved in public works projects.

The P400-billion health program will eliminate all health-related out-of-pocket expenses for one year.

The MSME recovery plan will set a fixed wage subsidy for 1 million workers who will be selected based on labor intensity, level of distress in the industry, and the prevailing unemployment rate in the province where the MSME is based.

Eligible MSMEs will receive a subsidy equivalent to 75% of the worker’s wages for at least one year, on the condition that all employees are paid in full, according to Mr. De Guzman, whose Labor First Policy is also pushing for a minimum wage of P750 a day.

In his plan for 2023 onwards, the government will institutionalize the job generation program via P500 billion per year employment guarantee for 2 million workers to be funded by a recurring tax on financial assets of between 1% and 5% depending on wealth thresholds.

It will also include a P90 billion per year subsidy which will provide a P500 daily allowance to 1.3 million involuntarily unemployed workers for half a year, funded through an additional 10% corporate income tax that may require reversing the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law.

He proposed a P250-billion annual budget to support a single-payer healthcare system, and to better compensate healthcare workers. All private healthcare contractors will also be enrolled in fixed-price public-private partnership contracts with the government, to be financed by a 5% Real Property Tax, which will be transferred from local government units to the national healthcare service. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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