• Nine priority economic bills identified

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    Nine priority bills that would address economic concerns of the government and private sector have been presented in a Cabinet meeting on Monday.

    The Department of Finance (DOF) in a statement said that Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima put forward a list of proposed bills during meeting to prioritize the Cabinet’s legislative proposals.

    “The meeting will result in a list of measures which the executive branch will propose for legislative action at the start of the 16th Congress on July 22, coinciding with President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s State of the Nation Address,” the DOF stated.

    One of the priority measures of the Cabinet’s Economic Development Cluster was the Amendments for the Build-Operate-Transfer Law, or Republic Act (RA) 7718, which according to Purisima, will accelerate the public-private partnership (PPP) program by directly addressing obstacles and issues encountered in implementation.

    “We propose to amend the inclusion of other PPP modalities such as joint ventures, concession and management contract and enhancing provisions on unsolicited proposals including the conduct of competitive challenge,” said Purisima.

    He added that there is also a need to make sure that the PPP governing board is properly accounted for in legislation.

    Other priority bills are the Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime; the Rationalization of the Fiscal Incentives Law; the Tax Incentives Monitoring and Transparency Act (Timta) and the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

    “The Finance department and the National Economic Development Authority [NEDA] will also discuss together with the Department of Trade and Industry how to make the country’s fiscal incentives system more efficient, citing to repeal an initial of 26 special laws with tax incentives provisions that may be contributing to wasteful tax incentives estimated at 1 percent of GDP [gross domestic product], according to a World Bank survey,” the DOF said.

    Purisima also said that a monitoring and accountability mechanism through the Timta bill will effectively account for the utilization of public monies, including those that are “spent” through the grant of tax incentives to businesses and activities.

    “The investment promotion agencies and other government agencies granting tax incentives should submit their annual tax expenditures to the DOF, and DOF will prepare an Annual Tax Expenditure Report that will be part of the BESF and reported to the President and to Congress,” he added.

    The DOF chief noted that the measures will enhance the government’s ability to track the incentives that it gives out, and properly evaluate which incentives most effectively spur development.

    Also included in the priority bills are the amendments to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Charter; and further amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act; the Removal of Investment Restrictions in Specific Laws cited in the Foreign Investment Negative List; Amendments to RA 8974, or the Act to Facilitate the Acquisition of Right-of-Way, Site or Location for National Government Infrastructure Projects and for Other Purposes and Amendments to the Cabotage Law.

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