“I don’t feel alluded to by his (Duterte’s) statement because if ever I express our opinion on the CITIRA (Comprehensive Income Tax and Incentive Rationalization Act) or TRABAHO (Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High Quality Opportunities) bill, because it is my moral duty and legal responsibility to speak up because it is our program, it is our incentives and our clients,” PEZA director general Charito Plaza said in a press conference yesterday.
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PEZA chief firms up stance on CITIRA exemption, denies underperformance
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - September 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Despite rumors she would be removed by President Duterte from her post due to poor performance, the chief of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority is sticking to her position that the PEZA must be excluded from the coverage of the proposed rationalization of fiscal incentives being pushed by the administration.

“I don’t feel alluded to by his (Duterte’s) statement because if ever I express our opinion on the CITIRA (Comprehensive Income Tax and Incentive Rationalization Act) or TRABAHO (Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High Quality Opportunities) bill, because it is my moral duty and legal responsibility to speak up because it is our program, it is our incentives and our clients,” PEZA director general Charito Plaza said in a press conference yesterday.

On Monday, Duterte said he would fire a female official of an economic agency not for corruption, but for underperformance.

Plaza has been vocal in defending the status quo for incentives, citing changes would make the country lose the competition for investments.

Existing locators, she said, have been holding off plans to expand and are preparing their exit given uncertainties on the changes in the incentives regime.

PEZA has been seeking a dialog with Duterte to present the stand of the agency as well as economic zone developers and locators on the proposed CITIRA bill or the second package of the government’s tax reform program which aims to gradually cut the corporate income tax rate to 20 percent by 2029 from 30 percent, and change the incentives regime including removing the five percent tax on gross income earned paid by ecozone locators after the end of their income tax holidays.

While PEZA has written four to five letters of request for a meeting with the President, Plaza said the agency never got a response.

“It seems to be there are people blocking,” she said.

Still, another request is being made by the agency to be able to air the agency’s position on the CITIRA bill.

Plaza said she asked Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, who previously served as special assistant to the President, to help the agency secure a meeting with Duterte.

She said it is important for her to speak on the CITIRA bill as the PEZA was not consulted when the proposed measure was crafted, and was not part of negotiations between the Department of Finance and Department of Trade and Industry on the matter.

“In other words, we were deprived. It is again my moral duty to support our investors and it is my legal duty because we are in contract with them. If only there was transparency, if there was participation and consultation from the very beginning, it could not have become this way that there seems to be misunderstanding or a different outlook,” she said.

She said even the trade secretary, who serves as PEZA chairman, does not understand the position taken by the investment promotions agency.

“I am facing this risk not because of my personal interest. If it is personal interest, I will keep my mouth shut. I’m doing this, I’m facing all these risks because I want to protect the interest of the Filipino people. I want to help in the success of the Duterte administration,” she added.

COMPREHENSIVE INCOME TAX AND INCENTIVE RATIONALIZATION ACT TAX REFORM FOR ATTRACTING BETTER AND HIGH QUALITY OPPORTUNITIES
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