FIRB grants fiscal perks to Converge, 3 other telcos

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Cabinet-level Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) has approved the grant of tax perks to four telecommunication firms for P228.8 billion worth of expansion projects in remote areas.

Finance Secretary and FIRB chairman Carlos Dominguez III yesterday said Converge ICT Solutions Inc. received fiscal incentives for its nationwide project setting up fiber optic networks for high-speed broadband services interconnecting from Luzon to Mindanao.

Dominguez said Converge’s project, with a total cost of P150.6 billion, was granted four years of income tax holiday, followed by five years of enhanced deductions.

Likewise, the FIRB authorized the project to enjoy 11 years of duty exemption on importations of capital equipment, raw materials and spare parts. Further, the tax privileges could be extended depending on the industries listed under the Strategic Investment Priority Plan.

Dominguez said the government expects Converge to deliver on its commitment to provide internet access at a cheap cost in remote areas. He added Converge should improve interconnectivity in areas where internet speed is usually unreliable.

“We expect Converge to deliver on its performance commitment of a faster and cheaper internet access in remote localities, as this will not only address pain points with regard to connectivity, but also provide more employment opportunities to our people in rural areas,” Dominguez said.

Apart from Converge, Dominguez said the FIRB extended incentives for tower firms SkyTowers Infra Inc., Frontier Tower Associates Philippines Inc. and Transcend Towers Infrastructure (Philippines) Inc.

According to Dominguez, the FIRB approved the three applications with the endorsement of the Board of Investments.

Based on records, the new projects applied by SkyTowers, Frontier and Transcend amounted to P78.2 billion. The telco firms were extended the same package awarded to Converge, but they have to put up their towers in areas where service is lacking.

Finance Assistant Secretary and FIRB secretariat head Juvy Danofrata said the FIRB issued the incentives to the telco firms on the necessity of the projects that they will undertake. She pointed out the Philippines lacks the volume of towers required to reach the whole population.

“The approval of these projects is urgent, given the current gap in the number of towers needed to service our population,” Danofrata said.



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