The Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (Conwep) and the Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE (CPMP) are pushing for the inclusion of key provisions in House Bill (HB) 6953, or “the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” (Bayanihan 2), to allow the local personal protective equipment to grow and be sustainable.
In a joint statement on Wednesday night, the two groups said lawmakers should pass Bayanihan 2 and include provisions like exempting locally made medical-grade PPE from the payment of duties, taxes, fees and local value-added tax (VAT).
“This will give ample leverage to the emerging subsector, to level off the playing field,” they added.
Conwep and CPMP also urged the government to strictly implement and impose Food and Drug Administration-accredited third-party laboratory testing on imported PPEs, which they said should be imposed with duties, taxes and other fees, as well as VAT on local sales.
Other provisions the group is pushing for include the retroactive application of capital equipment exemptions on import duties, and exemption on VAT on local sales to cover the period from the time Bayanihan 1 expired to be applied to repurposing firms and local manufacturers of medical-grade PPE.
The groups said CPMP members earlier heeded the call of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to manufacturing firms to repurpose a portion of their factory to produce PPE, such as medical-grade N95 and N88 masks, as well as medical-grade seam sealed coveralls, isolation gowns and head-and-shoe covers.
CPMP members are Medtecs International Corp. Ltd., EMS Components Assembly Inc., Reliance Producers Cooperative, Luen Thai International Group Philippines Inc., and Tacca Industries Pty Ltd from Australia.
According to Conwep and CPMP, these firms have the capacity to produce 57 million pieces of masks and 3 million pieces of coveralls and isolation gowns. They said 7,450 jobs were saved amid the pandemic and the investments of these firms in the last three months had an aggregate value of over $35 million.
The groups also assured that all products produced by CPMP members passed the highest standard requirements.
“We request our legislators to implement fiscal policy reforms that would allow the local PPE industry to grow and be sustainable. We need to level off the playing field from the influx of substandard PPEs,” Conwep and CPMP said.
“Together with DTI-BoI [Board of Investments], we would like to emphasize that repurposing of manufacturing to produce medical grade PPE provides the crucial factor of maintaining jobs of the skilled Filipino workers in the repurposed exporter-factories during this crisis,” they added.