Business groups list 28 priority measures for competitiveness
MANILA, Philippines — Business groups are pushing for the passage of 28 priority reforms during the 18th Congress to allow the country to become more competitive, attract investments and achieve inclusive growth.
In a joint statement released yesterday, Alyansa Agrikultura, the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc., Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc., Bankers Association of the Philippines, Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc., European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc., Foundation for Economic Freedom, Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines Inc., Korean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc., Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters Inc., and Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Inc. said they have come up with a list of priority legislative measures for the 18th Congress which opened last week.
While the groups commend the previous Congress for approving measures improving the country’s business environment, they are of the view there are many other reforms that still need to be put in place.
The groups said the priority legislative measures for the 18th Congress were identified following meetings with government and lawmakers.
“These priorities are being submitted to the leadership of the Congress and President Duterte for their consideration and enactment to improve the Philippine economy and its international competitiveness and to increase investment and job creation,” the groups said.
Among the reforms being pushed by the groups under Priority List A is the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and Higher Quality Opportunities (TRABAHO) bill which seeks to gradually reduce the country’s corporate income tax rate, considered among the highest in Southeast Asia, to 20 percent from 30 percent, and rationalize fiscal incentives given to investors.
Among the changes in the incentives proposed under the TRABAHO bill is the removal of the five percent tax on gross
income earned (GIE) paid in lieu of national and local taxes by firms operating in economic zones.
Existing locators have raised concerns on the removal of the five percent GIE citing such could put to risk jobs, as well as the country’s attractiveness as an investment destination.
“We convey our support on key provisions of the TRABAHO bill that are beneficial to our country’s economic growth but urge policymakers to review the other conditions that may negatively impact our global competitiveness,” the business groups said.
Also part of Priority List A are the Public Service Act amendments, Foreign Investment Act amendments, Retail Trade Act amendments, Apprenticeship Program Reform, Build Operate Transfer Law amendments, Freedom of Information Act, Bank Secrecy Law amendments, lifting foreign equity restrictions, Package 3 of the comprehensive tax reform covering property valuation and assessment, package four covering capital income and financial taxes, Open Access in Data Transmission Act, and Water Department Act.
Part of Priority List B, meanwhile, are the Farm Entrepreneurship Act, Philippine Economic Zone Authority Act amendments, tax reform Package 2 plus which covers excise tax on alcoholic beverages, Agri-Agra law amendments, Holiday Rationalization Act, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority Act, National Land Use Act, National Traffic and Congestion Crisis Act, Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board amendments, PhilPorts Act to amend the Philippine Ports Authority’s Charter, Water Regulatory Commission Act, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Act amendments, Commonwealth Act 541 or An Act to Regulate the Awarding of Contracts for Construction or Repair of Public Works amendments, National Transportation Safety
Board Act, and the Philippine Airports Authority Act.
“We believe these reforms will generate substantial impact in improving the country’s global competitiveness, increasing investment, and making economic growth more inclusive by creating more and better jobs,” the groups said.
Among the significant reforms enacted in the previous Congress were the Agricultural Free Patent Reform, the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the Ease of Doing Business Act, the Institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the National ID system, the Revised Agricultural Tariffication Law, the Revised Corporation Code Act, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Package, and the Universal Healthcare Act amendments.
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