PEZA board backs CITIRA bill
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - October 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — In an unexpected turn of events, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) board yesterday reached a unanimous decision to back the proposed Comprehensive Income Tax and Incentives Reform Act (CITIRA) that seeks to rationalize incentives given to investors.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, who serves as chairman of the PEZA board, said the decision was made during a special board meeting held yesterday.

He said he called for the meeting to emphasize the importance of the tax and incentives reform being pushed for President Duterte and the Cabinet.

“We had to explain fully that there are ongoing refinements in certain provisions of the bill to address the serious concerns of the stakeholders, especially the existing PEZA locators, and some senators who are equally concerned on minimizing any possible repercussion on jobs if some firms leave the country,” he said.

To address the concerns raised by stakeholders, he said there are discussions to provide a smoother transition, particularly on the number of years in the sunset provision for existing locators, as well as extra years of income tax holidays and lower tax rates for new projects in strategic, high technology industries with preference on locating in least developed areas. 

“It was emphasized that the concerns of the stakeholders are being addressed,” he said.

“With these adjustments, the PEZA board together with its management led by the director general (DG), has officially aligned its position to give strong support to the CITIRA and its parameters of having longer performance based, time-bound, focused and transparent set of incentives. PEZA DG will not ask for status quo or exemption from the CITIRA,” he added.

PEZA DG Charito Plaza, who is also vice chair of the board and has been vocal in opposing the CITIRA, caved in as she said the other agencies have expressed openness to fine-tune some features of the bill.

“DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and PEZA have reconciled their support to CITIRA with the openness of the DOF (Department of Finance) and DTI to fine-tunings that won’t remove PEZA’s ease of doing business of its one-stop shop and in consideration of an enhanced GIE (gross income earned),” she said.

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