The Philippines will seek to hasten and strengthen implementation of an initiative by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Economic Community on taxation during the 19th Asean Finance Ministers’ Meeting today (Saturday) in Malaysia.
In a statement on Friday, the Department of Finance said Secretary Cesar Purisima will discuss the progress of Asean finance cooperation with regional counterparts.
Specifically, finance ministers in attendance will examine progress on the Asean Infrastructure Financing Mechanism, the Asean Insurance Cooperation, as well as cooperation in customs, anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing.
“I am joining my fellow Asean finance ministers in Kuala Lumpur to take stock of our progress on financial integration and cooperation. Moving forward, we will focus on our shared goal to implement our commitments under the Asean Economic Community of 2015 more forcefully,” Purisima said.
The Finance chief said a priority agenda for the Philippines is for Asean to explore the economic impact of having a harmonized tax rate on financial instruments, as well as expediting negotiations on bilateral tax treaties to broaden the scope of integration.
Further, Purisima will raise the idea of an Asean Tax Identification Number (TIN), similar to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) TIN that is being introduced by the Philippines in the APEC Finance Ministers’ Process (FMP) under its Cebu Action Plan.
“I highly look forward to offering insights on our proposed Cebu Action Plan in APEC as a way to enhance our progress in Asean. For example, part of our vision for an integrated region is to see interlinked economies with ease of access to credit and finance, especially for small-income households and SMEs [small and medium enterprises]. This ensures that an integrated Asean is one that is inclusive,” he said.
Purisima will also push for Asean to be a resilient region less vulnerable to natural disasters and volatility in the global markets.
This requires a concerted effort on disaster risk financing among members to build risk insurance facilities and mechanisms. A reliably robust buffer makes for a stronger, more prosperous region, he added.
The Cebu Action Plan is a four-pillar road map currently being discussed in the APEC Finance Ministers’ Process.
Proposed by the Philippines, it calls for financial integration, financial transparency, financial resiliency, and infrastructure development and financing to build more inclusive and sustainable economies among members.
“The median age in Asean is 28.9 years, and our region boasts a population numbering 620 million. We need to make long-term investments in infrastructure to enhance connectivity and mobility among our growing populations and economies.
We will only continue to grow in a sustainable manner if we have the necessary infrastructure to support such growth,” Purisima added.