MANILA -- Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia has urged the Senate to make its version of Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill “closer” to the version of the House of Representatives.

On the sidelines of the opening of the 28th National Statistics Month, Pernia said he would like to see better net revenue for the government in the Senate version of the TRAIN bill to support the administration’s program, particularly funding the infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration.

It was after the Senate Committee on Ways and Means has approved Senate Bill 1592, a watered down version of the TRAIN bill, giving the government lower net revenue for next year compared with the House Bill (HB) 5636.

The Department of Finance (DOF) has estimated that the approved version of the Senate panel will only gain PHP59.9 billion for the government in 2018, which is half of the PHP119.4 billion estimated net revenue in HB 5636.

Both the upper and lower houses’ versions are lower than the proposed version of the DOF, which aims PHP149.6-billion revenue for the government during the first year of implementation of the tax reform program.

“We're still hoping that the Senate version will improve and move closer, if not, the same level of the House version at least,” Pernia told reporters.

“We are working behind the scenes and trying to talk to other senators to support our desire and our aspiration,” he added.

Pernia also mentioned that the Senate can look into tweaking provisions on excise tax to get higher revenue for the government.

Moreover, Pernia said the administration remains optimistic to roll out the first package of the comprehensive tax reform program by January 2018. PNA)