FINANCE Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III has assured European businessmen that transparency will prevail in the continuing tax-reform program and the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure projects, aimed to enhance productivity and create new jobs.
During a recent meeting with key officials of top European multinational companies belonging to the Europe-Asean Business Alliance (Eaba), the finance chief pointed out that the Philippines is open for business, particularly in the area of infrastructure development, but he has yet to see companies from Europe participating in the bidding for these type of projects.
Dominguez told the Eaba that the government has been “very transparent” in its transactions, and continues to pursue reforms in the tax system following the enactment this year of the first package of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP).
The first pacakge—the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law—took effect on January 1 and lowered personal-income tax rates while raising additional revenues to help support the government’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) infrastructure program and other priority projects, which are being fast-tracked.
The Eaba members told Dominguez and Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez at the meeting that they want to contribute to the
economic-reform agenda of the Duterte administration by setting up businesses, which they called “an important contributor to economic prosperity.”
Dominguez pointed out that President Duterte’s policies on attracting investments, on top of pursuing a massive infrastructure program and pushing tax reform, are to provide a conducive climate for business by maintaining peace and order, and curbing corruption in the bureaucracy.
Present at the meeting were officials from Swiss Re, a wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer; Van Oord, a contractor for dredging, marine engineering, offshore and energy products; East West Seed, which is involved in plant breeding; Ofo, which is the world’s first and largest dock-free bicycle-sharing platform; Zuellig Pharma; ABB; and Rabobank Singapore & Representative Markets.
Officials from Alaska Milk Corp.; Vriens & Partners, a corporate advisory firm specializing in government affairs; and Roche Philippines, which is engaged in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, were also at the meeting.
The proposed second package of the CTRP aims to lower corporate-income tax rates from 30 percent to 25 percent while harmonizing the country’s fiscal incentives regime. It is meant to level the business playing field and help the country be on a par with its Asean neighbors.
Dominguez earlier said that the “pro-business, pro-investments and pro-incentives” Package 2 will help the government build a fairer and more competitive business environment through reforms in the corporate tax system “that will deliver a more even playing field, simplify collection procedures, bring greater transparency and reward genuine efficiency.”
He said Package 2 will continue to grant incentives to businesses, but the government must now ensure “that every peso given up as an incentive must benefit the society in the form of better jobs, faster innovation and countryside development.”
“The success we have so far achieved for the first tax-reform package is encouraging, but we cannot and should not stop the train from moving forward,” Dominguez said.