McConnell and Pelosi push for relief bill

first_imgSpeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.Reuters The two most powerful people in Congress — at least for the next two months — renewed their calls for coronavirus stimulus on Friday.A relief deal could prove just as difficult to reach as it did before Election Day.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., again called for a targeted aid package. In Kentucky, he argued a better than expected October jobs report that saw the U.S. unemployment rate fall to 6.9% reduces the need for a sweeping stimulus bill.- Advertisement – Areas of disagreement between the parties included state and local government aid, enhanced unemployment insurance and liability protections for businesses.Democrats will keep control of the House next Congress, though they will likely lose seats, according to NBC News. Pelosi is expected to serve as speaker for at least one more term.McConnell said earlier this week that he hopes to pass more relief money before the end of the year. How the results of the presidential election will shape President Donald Trump‘s desire to approve a bill during the lame duck session remains to be seen.Though key unresolved states are too close to call in the presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden narrowly leads Trump in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada, according to NBC News. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., appeared with Pelosi on Friday and suggested a Biden presidency would give Democrats more leverage in aid talks.Economists and policymakers, including Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, have warned the economic recovery could lose steam if Congress does not pass more fiscal stimulus. Policies buoying those still unemployed, including supplemental jobless benefits and a federal moratorium on evictions, expired earlier this year.Suspension of federal student loan interest will expire at the end of the year. “I think it reinforces the argument that I’ve been making for the last few months, that something smaller – rather than throwing another $3 trillion at this issue – is more appropriate,” he told reporters, according to Reuters. McConnell noted that he will not necessarily lead the Senate in January: NBC News projects both Republicans and Democrats will hold at least 48 seats, with four races unsettled.Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for Republicans to restart aid talks that fell apart before the 2020 election. She told reporters that the “imperative to act could not be greater” after the U.S. posted a record of more than 120,000 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday.Still, she said a narrow bill “doesn’t appeal to me at all.” The chambers of Congress failed to find common ground on relief before the election, as Senate Republicans tried to pass a $500 billion aid bill and House Democrats approved a $2.2 trillion package.- Advertisement –center_img – Advertisement – – Advertisement –last_img read more

Regencies asked to waive $6m in street lighting taxes for poor households

first_imgIndonesia, like many other countries, is allocating millions of dollars to tackling the pandemic, which has killed 582 people as of Sunday, the highest death toll in Southeast Asia, while the country is also cutting tax rates across the board in shoring up economic growth.The PPJ is one out of 10 types of taxes collected by regency administrations to finance, among others, healthcare facilities and social safety net programs. Such taxes are calculated as a maximum 10 percent of each household’s electricity bill. The rate is 2.4 percent in Jakarta.Robert said PPJs contributed an average 20 percent “but up to half in some regions” of a regency’s locally generated income. Without PPJs, many regencies’ other source of income is from the issuance of building permits (IMBs). Other usual sources such as hotel, restaurant and entertainment venue taxes have dried up over the past two months due to the pandemic.An official from the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, which is among several ministries pushing the tax break, said last week that the government was awaiting approval from the Fiscal Policy Agency (BKF), which oversees regional incomes, before expediting the plan. The government is pushing regencies to slash street lighting taxes (PPJ) for 31 million of Indonesia’s poorest homes in helping them weather the economic shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic.The plan is estimated to free up Rp 95.26 billion (US$6.1 million) in liquidity each month but also lowers each regencies’ locally generated incomes (PAD), out of which around 20 percent comes from street lighting taxes, experts told The Jakarta Post.“On one hand, regions face huge fiscal strains as they reallocate and refocus spending on the pandemic, yet on the other hand, they are losing income,” Robert Endi Jaweng of think tank Regional Autonomy Watch (KPPOD) said on Monday. “In a few days, once the decision is made, the Office of the Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister will bring in the Home Affairs Ministry and we will explain this plan to each regional administration,” said the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry’s electricity business development director, Hendra Iswahyudi.He added that the plan was to waive PPJs for 24 million homes in the 450 volt ampere (VA) power category, the lowest out of six under existing regulations, and for 7 million homes in the second-lowest 900 VA Subsidized category.The tax break would add on to the government’s Rp 3.5 trillion electricity relief program in reducing the living costs of Indonesia’s poorest households, for whom electricity is the third highest non-food spending.The chairman of the Regency Administrations Association (APKASI), Abdullah Azwar Anas, who is also Banyuwangi regent, told the Post that government officials have discussed the plan with association leaders via video conference.“The point is, in relation to street lighting tax, I think it is a good idea as the reduction of electricity bills have really benefited the poor,” he said.Meanwhile, the Home Ministry, which oversees regional administrations, is working to put in place the necessary regulations for such a tax break.Such regulations include Ministerial Instruction No. 1/2020 that tells regents to “prioritize” spending on health care, social safety nets and economic incentives and that extends the submission deadline for regional budgets (APBD) to April 23.The Home Ministry is also revising ministerial regulation No. 33/2019 on compiling 2020 regional budgets. The revision, which is expected to come out this month, includes a clause that allows regents to factor in tax breaks in their 2020 regional budgets. Breaks include waiving, reducing or postponing payments.“It means that under that revision, we urge all regional administrations to provide tax breaks for that tax,” said the ministry’s regional revenue director Hendriwan.He added that many regencies had already implemented PPJ breaks for hotels and restaurants at the request of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), whose members are among the hardest hit by the pandemic.center_img Topics :last_img read more