Local, foreign biz groups call for passage of tax reform plan

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The Department of Finance said 15 foreign and local business organizations have appealed to Malacañang and the Congress to give top priority to the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP).

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They are also pushing for 11 other legislative proposals that aim to improve the country’s investment climate, create more jobs, sustain the growth momentum and clear the way to economic inclusion.

In a statement, the DOF said these organizations, belonging to the Philippine Business Groups-Joint Foreign Chambers (PBG-JFC), laid out their position in a letter to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

It said the business groups believe the CTRP and the other economic reform measures they have recommended for swift approval by the legislature are all “in line with the 10-point socioeconomic agenda of the Duterte administration.”

Alongside the CTRP, the 15 business groups also urged Malacañang to include the lifting of the constitutional restrictions on foreign ownership limits and amendments to the Bank Secrecy Law in its priority agenda for discussion in the next meeting of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), according to the DOF.

These PBG-JFC member-organizations also called for the swift approval of the following proposed legislation in Congress: reforms in the apprenticeship program implemented by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer law, the Freedom of Information bill, amendments to the Corporation Code, reforms in the telecommunications sector, the Water Sector Reform Act, amendments to the Public Service Act, emergency powers to address the traffic and transportation crisis and amendments to the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.

“All constitute reforms that will improve the business and economic climate of the Philippines and result in more investments, jobs, and inclusive growth,” read the letter, a copy of which was furnished Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd.

The DOF said relaxing the provisions of the bank secrecy law for tax fraud cases is actually one of the complementary measures to the CTRP which it has proposed to the Congress in endorsing House Bill (HB) 4774, which covers the first package of the tax reform plan.

Package 1 of the CTRP aims to lower personal income tax rates as well as donor and estate taxes, while adjusting the excise rates for automobiles and petroleum products, and expanding the value-added tax base but retaining exemptions enjoyed by senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

Further reforms being considered by the Congress to complement HB 4774 include imposing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, indexing the motor vehicle user’s charge to inflation, and granting an amnesty to past estate tax cases.

HB 4774 also includes legislated administrative reforms in the Bureaus of Internal Revenue (BIR) and of Customs (BOC), such as the adoption of a fuel marking and monitoring system to prevent oil smuggling—not only to collect the correct taxes but also to ensure that only high-quality petroleum products and not adulterated fuel are sold in the market—along with the use of e-receipts, and the mandatory link of the point-of-sale (POS) systems of establishments directly to the BIR.

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