Good news: Consumers score victory as House panel reconsiders vote on text tax

txtpower2Due to some technical problems, the TXTPower website has gone awry today. I’ll be posting here our press release regarding the outcome of today’s hearing held by the House Committee on Ways and Means regarding the text tax.

Consumers score victory as House panel reconsiders vote on text tax

Besieged by opposition from all sides, the House Ways and Means Committee took back its Sept. 8 vote in favor of the still-unnumbered substitute House Bill imposing a five-centavo tax on text messages and all other mobile phone services, national and international.

“This is a victory for consumers. We hope the House will totally stop it and archive it, along with all previous text tax bills since 2001,” said TXTPower president Anthony Ian Cruz.

Cruz noted that the House hearings have exposed the fact that telcos in fact spend little to provide text messages and yet rake in superprofits. “The lack of regulation has allowed telcos to arbitrarily impose prices way beyond the actual prices of their products and services. In fact, Congressman Danilo Suarez, a chief proponent of the text tax law, admitted to the media last week that text messages should be free.”

“These hearings should continue but not towards imposing a new tax, but to lower prices and rates,” said Cruz.”The House leadership should order the appropriate committees to immediately convene to investigate the telcos, their pricing, net incomes, abusive practices, so that we can soon have lower prices for mobile phone services, across the board.”

Earlier, TXTPower led consumers in assailing the text tax bill before the House panel. Its position paper underscored consumers’ demand for lower prices and rates, and batted instead for a tax on windfall profits of telcos.

Cruz told the House members that Congress erred by making the text tax bill. “This bill is not about the telcos. It is about consumers. If they really want to tax telcos, they should spare consumers and focus on the billions of superprofits of Globe and Smart, and their parent companies.”

Congressmen Rufus Rodriguez, Teddy Casino, Raymond Palatino, Monico Puentevella, Risa Hontiveros Baraquel praised the four-page TXTPower position paper.

Rodriguez moved that the committee suspend the vote on the bill, taking back the Sept. 8 vote which drew the ire of consumer groups like TXTPower, OFW groups, labor unions, other House members and senators.

Committee chair Ezequiel Javier was the only congressman who supported the bill during the hearing.

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