MANILA - A congressman is seeking to pass a law that will declare the Philippine Arena of the Iglesia ni Cristo a tourism enterprise.
In a statement, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said he has filed House Bill 4786 mandating the Department of Tourism (DOT) in coordination with the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to immediately take steps to facilitate and assist in the formulation and implementation of a tourism development plan.
The bill aims to exempt the Philippine Arena from the payment of application and similar fees and related charges and allows it to enjoy appropriate incentives and benefits similarly enjoyed by registered tourism enterprises.
Evardone, Vice-Chairperson of the Committees on Appropriations and Public Information, said the overall vision of the master plan would eventually see inclusion of shopping centers, a hospital and large-scale residential developments.
He said the measure also proposes the grant of appropriate and available fiscal and non-fiscal incentives and benefits made retroactive to the initial phase of the Arena's construction.
Evardone added that under current laws, fiscal incentives that may possibly be enjoyed by registered tourism enterprises include 6-year income tax exemptions and/or holidays; net operating loss carry-over incentive and payment of five percent of the gross income taxation in lieu of all other national and local taxes, license fees, imports and assessments.
Other fiscal incentives include 100-percent tax and customs duties exemption from importation of capital investment and equipment; transportation equipment and spare parts tax and customs duties exemption and social responsibility incentive.
Evardone said non-fiscal incentives that may be enjoyed include employment of foreign national; special investor's resident visa incentive; foreign currency transactions incentives like repatriation of investments, remittance of foreign exchange, incentives involving foreign loans and contracts; non-requisition of investments; lease and ownership of land.
Under the measure, the DOT and the TIEZA and other concerned agencies are mandated to promulgate the necessary rules and regulations for the proper implementation of this proposal.
Designed by Australia-based Populous, the Philippine Arena has a seating capacity of over 55,000 people and is considered the largest indoor arena in the world.
Built on 99,200 square meters of land and with a dome of 36,000 square meters, it is the centerpiece of the many centennial projects of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) for their grand centennial celebration.
The Arena will not only hold major church gatherings, but will also operate as a multi-use sports and concert venue, capable of holding a range of events from boxing and basketball to live music performances.