Rodrigo Duterte’s Finance Chief Seeks to Spread the Wealth in the Philippines

The Philippines’ new finance secretary appointed by the hard-nosed incoming president, Rodrigo Duterte, has vowed that the new government won’t destroy the economic gains of the outgoing Aquino administration, but will work to spread them to ordinary Filipinos, The Wall Street Journal reported. “We are here to build on, not destroy, those gains,” said Carlos Dominguez, who last served as minister two decades ago. He currently owns the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City on southern Mindanao island, where his childhood friend, Mr. Duterte, is the longtime mayor. Mr. Dominguez has been poring over the tax-reform package that outgoing Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima handed him recently to work out a smooth transition of power. He said the proposal may be adopted if it eases the burden on taxpayers, corrects inequities and broadens the tax base. At 32%, corporate income tax in the Philippines among the highest in Asia. Mr. Dominguez said it needs to fall to 25% to be competitive. Individual income-tax levels need to be updated and indexed to inflation, he said. Mr. Aquino fought to improve governance and consolidate the country’s finances. That enabled the Philippines to grow at an average 6.01% annually in the last five years, the fastest in decades. Credit-rating firms have upgraded the sovereign rating to investment-grade, while foreign investors poured in funds. Read more. (Subscription required.)