Tax incentives to be prioritized in Congress

Posted at 05/04/14 4:00 PM

MANILA -- Members of Congress have been asked to prioritize measures seeking to streamline tax incentives for businesses as well as better consumer protection.

In an interview with radio dzRB, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Cabinet economic development cluster has submitted five priority bills expected to be tackled as Congress resumes sessions on Monday.

Citing Presidential Adviser Manuel Mamba of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO), Coloma said the five priority measures are the: Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act, Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Plan, Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime, and the renewal of the Philippine National Railways franchise.

The tax incentives bill provides the government with necessary tools to determine the support that a sector needs, such as tax incentives. The fiscal incentives rationalization bill, on the other hand, organizes the grant of incentives to the different sectors.

Meanwhile, the Senate promised to tackle pro-consumer legislation.

Senate President Franklin Drilon said the upper House will tackle the bill increasing the tax exemption limit on the 13th month pay of workers.

While the bill is still being heard in the appropriate Senate committees, Drilon assured that it is a priority legislation in the 16th Congress “due to its direct effect to millions of Filipino workers around the country.”

Another bill to be prioritized is the higher allowances for members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and all personnel of the Philippine National Police.

“It is about time that we provide relief to our very dedicated workforce, both from the government and private sectors, whose purchasing power has already shrunk due to inflation,” he said.

The Senate will also have to address Senate Bill No. 27, which seeks to discourage Filipinos from smoking by requiring all tobacco products to bear pictures illustrating the ill-effects of smoking.

It will also focus on Senate Bill No. 2138, which seeks to amend the Sandiganbayan law.

He said this is important given public sentiment against corruption in the highest levels of government, including the pork barrel scam. Cases have yet to be filed at the Sandiganbayan, but the public is crying for an immediate resolution to the cases.

Other bills to be addressed on the floor include Senate Bill No. 2042, which seeks to prohibit the development, production or stockpiling of chemical weapons in the country; SBN 914, which would regulate and modernize the Philippine’s practice of chemistry; SBN 2055, which seeks to regulate the practice of forestry; and SBN 2103, which seeks to regulate practice of metallurgical engineering in the country.

Senator Cynthia Villar is also expected to sponsor a bill that will extend the Philippine National Railway's charter.

One of the bills that is expected to pass the third and final reading is the bill that will legally compel telephone companies to disseminate early warnings of disasters at no added cost to the consumer or the government; as well as the legislation granting a franchise to Cotabato Light and Power Company to continue bringing electricity to some areas in Maguindanao.