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June 18, 2008

New Philippines law gives half a million people income tax relief
Philippines President Gloria Arroyo on Tuesday signed a law exempting more than half a million Filipinos from paying income tax, as part of efforts to help the poor weather rising food and energy prices.

"This is part of our immediate and temporary help to Filipino families squeezed by the global surge in oil and rice prices," AFP quoted Arroyo as saying in a speech after signing the bill into law.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves told reporters the move -- raising the minimum taxable income of people in the lower-earning bracket -- would mean the government is giving up about 14 billion pesos ($315 million).

Replacing the lost revenues is "not going to be easy so we just have to work very hard on it and we have to convince our individual taxpayers and corporations to assist us," Teves said.

Oil-dependent Philippines, which is also one of the world's largest rice importers, has cut its economic growth projections for the next three years and postponed its 2008 target to balance its budget by three years due to the adverse international economic environment.

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