The House Special Committee on East Asean Growth Area has recently adopted House Resolution 454 urging President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to renew the policy granting travel tax exemption to travelers departing from all international airports and seaports in Mindanao and Palawan to any destination in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
Sultan Kudarat Rep. Princess Rihan M. Sakaluran, author of the measure, traced the policy to former President Rodrigo Duterte, by virtue of Memorandum Order No. 23 issued in 2018, to promote mobility of travelers across the sub-regional areas and for airline companies to open up services within the Philippines-EAGA routes.
“In order to promote mobility of travelers across the sub-regional areas, and for airline companies to open up services within the Philippines-EAGA routes, former President Duterte issued Memorandum Order 23 granting tax exemption to all passengers originating from Mindanao and Palawan to any destination in BIMP-EAGA,” she said.
However, the policy had a five-year effectivity that will expire in 2023.
“The opening of our economic corridors is crucial to attain the mission and vision of the BIMP-EAGA,” said Sakaluran.
According to Sakaluran, the ministers of BIMP-EAGA are deeply concerned with the protracted impact brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic as it continues to affect lives and livelihoods in the sub-region.
“The travel tax exemption policy that the national government has been granting travelers from Mindanao and Palawan to any area in the BIMP-EAGA has continued to revitalize the BIMP-EAGA’s programs and activities and has made a positive impact on the growth of tourism, trade and investment in the sub-region. More particularly, it has produced economic benefits in terms of increased business activities, remarkable growth in tourism development, additional air and sea services in the transportation sector and heightened sociocultural ties among the people in the growth area,” she added.
During the hybrid meeting, Davao del Sur Rep. John Tracy Cagas said that the objective of the BIMP-EAGA Vision 2025 is to increase trade, tourism and investments that will guide cooperation over a nine-year period covering calendar years 2017-2025.
He also said that no less than Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez supports the measure.
National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Carlos Bernardo Abad Santos said the BIMP-EAGA is a cooperation initiative established in 1994 aimed at promoting mobility and spur development in remote and less developed areas in the participating Southeast Asian countries.