DOF fleshes out 10-pt agenda in first 100 days

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THE Department of Finance (DOF) has initiated a broad range of initiatives to help flesh out President Rodrigo Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda to achieve inclusive growth and attack poverty.

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The DOF submitted to the Congress Package One of this tax reform plan—dubbed the proposed Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act—on September 26. Its main feature is to exempt most Filipinos from paying income taxes and grow the middle class, while collecting revenues from affluent taxpayers to help fund the President’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda.

The DOF spearheaded the crafting of the President’s 10-point agenda for inclusive growth in partnership with business and civil-society groups at the Sulong Pilipinas forum in Davao City, weeks before Duterte took his oath of office on June 30.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd has initiated talks with governments of Spain, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Brunei, France, Australia and Bangladesh; international institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank; and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, and Mindanao Business Council.

In keeping with President Duterte’s SONA directive for all government agencies to cut red tape, Dominguez named Undersecretary Gil Beltran as head of a newly formed anti-red tape committee.

Beltran’s anti-red tape panel has teamed up with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) for an online business and citizen registry that would serve as a one-stop shop for individuals and companies to track and validate records, removing from them the burden of proving legitimacy when securing licenses, permits and other official documents.

This panel has started cutting the number of days to process official papers at the DOF and its attached agencies.

To facilitate imports, the Bureau of Customs is implementing higher limits on de minimis importations, which refers to small-value imports of P10,000 or below that are exempt from tax payments.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue, for its part,simplified and facilitated the processing of tax clearances and certificates authorizing registration for real properties and shares of stock, according to BIR officer-in-charge Nestor Valeroso.

The processing time for these documents has been reduced from several weeks to months to only three to five days.

The Insurance Commission (IC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Department of Health (DOH) for the development of health microinsurance products that will complement the existing program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Affordable microhealth insurance products approved by the IC are now being offered by insurance providers.

As part of heightened efforts to raise enough revenues for Malacañang’s accelerated spending on infrastructure, human capital and social protection for vulnerable sectors, the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) last month auctioned off retail treasury bonds –the first offer under the Duterte watch – and netting P100 billion from the week-long sale.

With regards to the DOF’s privatization thrusts, its Privatization Management Office (PMO) has so far generated P50.7 million from the sale of various parcels of land in the cities of Davao, Tagum and Parañaque, and in Manila.

As part of the public-private partnership (PPP) program, the DOF and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board approved the construction of the P23.2-billion North Luzon Expressway (NLEX)– South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) Connector Road Project as an unsolicited proposal of the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC).

A notice of award from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) was issued to the Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp. and its subsidiary Manila North Tollways Corporation onSeptember 26.

The DOF also helped streamline the decision-making process by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) by increasing the minimum value of projects for approval at P5 billion and working on reducing the number of members in order to make decisions expeditiously.

In pursuit of the President’s anti-corruption agenda, Dominguez ordered the BIR and BOC to intensify efforts to flush out corrupt officials.

In particular, BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay has directed the continuous investigation of pending administrative cases against erring officials and recommended the termination of those found guilty after due notice and hearing.

Dominguez alsoinitiated moves that led to a reversal of the previous Aquino administration’s decision to merge the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) and the Development of the Philippines (DBP).

In a meeting with retired Maj. Gen. John Gomes, the Bangladesh ambassador to Manila, Dominguez assured the Bangladesh government of the Duterte administration’s all- out support for Bangladesh’s recovery of its dollar deposit that were stolen by hackers from its account at the US Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Weeks after that meeting, Gomes thanked Dominguez along with other government officials following a Manila Regional Trial Court order to return to Bangladesh $15 million of the stolen money that had been surrendered by casino junket operator Kim Wong.

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