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Swift budget okay prods Senate action

A lawmaker on Saturday commended the leadership of the House of Representatives for acting swiftly on priority legislative measures meant to help President Rodrigo Duterte fulfill his goal of sustaining the economy’s high—and inclusive—growth rate.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte made the statement after the House approved on final reading Friday night the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020.

READ: House approves P4.1-trillion budget

Aside from the money measure, Villafuerte, deputy speaker for finance, said that as of this week, several investor-friendly bills have already been approved by the House and is now being referred to the Senate for action.

These bills were House Bill 4157 or the proposed  Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Reform (CITIRA), which was approved on third and final reading last Sept. 13. 

The bill aims to gradually lower the current corporate income tax rate of 30 percent to 20 percent and redesign the fiscal incentives system to make it performance-based, time-bound, targeted and transparent;

• HB 304  or the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Act (PIFITA), which was approved on third and final reading last Sept. 9. The bill aims to harmonize taxes in the financial sector;

• HB 305 or the Valuation Reform Bill, which was approved by the House committees on government reorganization and on ways and means on Sept. 10 and Sept. 11, respectively. 

The measure seeks to institute reforms in the country’s property valuation system to align it with international standards and  enable local government units to raise additional revenues by updating their schedule of market values; 

• HB 1026, or the new “Sin” Tax bill on alcoholic drinks and electronic cigarettes, which was approved on third and final reading last Aug. 20. 

The bill aims to substantially raise excise taxes on alcohol products, including “alcopops” and e-cigarettes such as heated tobacco and vapor (vaping) products. 

The approval of the bill will help the government fill the huge funding gap of the Universal Health Care program; and

• HB 300 or the amendments to Republic Act No. 7042, also known as the Foreign Investments Act (FIA), which was approved on third and final reading on Sept. 9.

• The bill aims to lower the threshold for foreign investors to own small and medium enterprises by allowing them to do so with a minimum paid-up capital of less than $100,000 if the business involves advanced technology or if they employ at least 15 direct employees. 

 Villafuerte is one of the House leaders who authored the proposed CITIRA, PIFITA, VRB, the new “Sin” Tax bill and the amendments to the Foreign Investments Act. 

 He appealed to his fellow lawmakers in both chambers to pass these reform measures soonest to make the country more investor-friendly, and help offset the restrictions under the Constitution that have been deal-breakers for investors.  

 “We need to relax the restrictions in doing business in the country that have become deal-breakers for foreign investors despite the Philippines’ emergence as one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia,” Villafuerte said. 

READ: Congress to pass proposed national budget for 2020

READ: House vows pro-poor budget

READ: House to pass 2020 national budget, says Romualdez

Topics: House of Representatives , Rodrigo Duterte , Luis Raymund Villafuerte , national budget
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