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Congress vows COVID-19 budget oversight
Rep. Eric Go Yap, chairman of the House appropriations committee, vowed to “safeguard the righteous expenditure of the people’s budget” following the approval last year of two laws providing financial assistance to the poor, as well as extending the validity of Bayanihan 2.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

Congress vows COVID-19 budget oversight

Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives is ready to perform budget oversight functions for government measures to combat COVID-19 as sessions in both houses of Congress resume today, according to its leaders.

Rep. Eric Go Yap, chairman of the House appropriations committee, vowed to “safeguard the righteous expenditure of the people’s budget” following the approval last year of two laws providing financial assistance to the poor, as well as extending the validity of Bayanihan 2.

“Our responsibility does not end once the budget is enacted. Aside from our regular committee work, we will exercise the oversight function of the committee to look into how the budget will be spent throughout the year,” he said over the weekend.

“We will make sure that nothing will be wasted for every peso that each Filipino pays in the form of taxes. We will make sure all of these benefits will trickle down to the masses,” the congressman from party-list ACT-CIS said.

Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said the House will continue to work double time in passing Duterte’s legislative agenda and pursue economic reforms that would ensure a sustained campaign to defeat the pandemic.

“The House, under the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, will work on the immediate approval of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) and Amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001 (RA 9160),” he said.

Both CREATE and AMLA are in the bicameral conference committee.

“These are administration measures which the Department of Finance classified as vital for our economic recovery program. We are going to harmonize immediately the differences between the Senate and the House versions during the bicam conferences,” said Romualdez.

CREATE, primarily authored by House ways and means committee chairman Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, is now pending in the bicameral conference while AMLA amendments were approved by the House on third and final reading in December 2020.

The House contingent in the bicameral conference committee had set its self-imposed deadline for the approval of the Congress-approved CREATE bill for this month.

“I can assure you: not one member of my delegation wants this to spill over to February. January 2021 is our internal deadline,” Salceda told House reporters, saying they are determined to finish CREATE “by January this year.”

CREATE is the enhanced version of the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Reform Act (CITIRA), which is Package 2 of the Duterte administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program.

The proposed CREATE bill aims to reduce corporate income tax rate for resident foreign corporations and non-resident foreign corporations from 30 percent to 25 percent and cut the  minimum corporate income tax (MCIT) rate from 2 percent to 1 percent over three years.

The bill was approved by the House on third and final reading in September 2019, while the Senate’s version was okayed in November 2020. The measure is now undergoing bicam deliberations, where senators and congressmen are trying to iron out kinks in the bill.

“We’re trying our best so that this can be resolved in one day of bicam discussions. So, this will probably not take the whole of January’s session. We just want a stronger bias towards countryside development and gross value added, since that was the intent of CITIRA,” he said.

“I suppose the differences are because we in the House mostly represent the provinces, while most senators come from big cities, so the perspective has some differences. But I think the changes I hope to introduce are sensible and should be agreeable to both Houses.”

BAYANIHAN 2 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
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