A leader of the House of Representatives on Sunday urged the Senate to immediately act on the economic bills that were recently approved by the lower chamber.
Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte appealed to his fellow lawmakers to pass economic reform measures before year-end to make the country more investor-friendly, and help offset the restrictions under the Constitution that have been deal-breakers for investors.
“We need to relax the restrictions in doing business in the country that have become deal-breakers for foreign investors despite the Philippines’s emergence as one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia.”Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte
The lawmaker said the investor-friendly bills that have already been acted upon are House Bill 4157, or the proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (Citira); HB 304, or the Passive Income and Financial IntermediaryTax Act (Pifita); HB 1026, or the new “sin” tax bill on alcoholic drinks and electronic cigarettes; and HB 300, or the amendments to Republic Act 7042 or the Foreign Investments Act (FIA).
The Citira bill, which was approved on third and final reading last September 13, aims to gradually lower the current corporate income tax rate (CIT) of 30 percent to 20 percent and redesign the fiscal incentives system to make it performance-based, time-bound, targeted and transparent.
The Pifita bill, which was approved on third and final reading last September 9, aims to harmonize taxes in the financial sector.
HB 1026, or the new sin tax bill on alcoholic drinks and electronic cigarettes, which was approved on third and final reading last August 20, aims to substantially raise excise taxes on alcohol products, including alcopops and e-cigarettes, such as heated tobacco and vapor (vaping) products. The approval of the bill will help the government fill the huge funding gap of the Universal Health Care program.
Also, HB 300 or the amendments to FIA, which was approved on third and final reading on September 9, seeks to lower the threshold for foreign investors to own small and medium enterprises by allowing them to do so with a minimum paid up capital of less than $100,000 if the business involves advanced technology or if they employ at least 15 direct employees.
The lawmaker said another priority measure—the HB 305, or the valuation reform bill—was approved by the House committees on government reorganization, and on ways and means on September 10 and 11, respectively. This measure seeks to institute reforms in the country’s property valuation system to align it with international standards and enable local government units to raise additional revenues by updating their schedule of market values.
The HB 305 is pending before plenary approval at the lower chamber.
Villafuerte said the approval of these business-friendly bills should serve as the “opening act” for the eventual move to amend the 1987 Charter by paving the way to a government switch to federalism and liberalizing foreign ownership restrictions.
Image credits: congress.gov.ph