Congress has time to pass more economic measures: lawmakers


Posted at Jul 26 2021 12:08 PM

Congress has time to pass more economic measures: lawmakers 1
A fishing raft with a resting shed floats on the shores of Baseco in Tondo Manila on July 09, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA— Congress has time to pass several economic measures before the end of President Rodrigo Duterte's term, lawmakers said Monday.

The Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the Public Service Act and Foreign Investment Act "are all in advanced stages" of legislation, Sen. Edgardo "Sonny" Angara told ANC.

"I think it’s reasonable to expect those 3," Angara said. 

Several measures under the administration's Comprehensive Tax Reform Programs (CTRP) are also pending. But the income-generating packages have already been approved such as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law (TRAIN Law).

Duterte signed Package 1 or the TRAIN law in December 2017 and the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE law in March. 

CREATE is meant to attract more foreign investments. 

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said the administration would push for 2 more tax reform measures meant to revamp the country's property valuation system, and simplify the taxation of passive income, financial services and transactions. 

"The heavy lifting has been done, really. These other tax reform packages are no longer revenue-generating except maybe for the tax on POGOs," he added. 

If there is still enough time, Congress might also be able to finalize a measure meant to finalize tax laws for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs).

Senate Majority leader Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri earlier said the Senate aims to pass 10 measures to strengthen the economy. 

Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said "much of the framework for recovery is in place."

What the administration can do is to "mobilize" the resources, he said.

Moving forward, the Philippines should do more to strengthen agriculture, science and reproductive health law.

The country's economy has seen its worst level since the end of World War 2 at -9.6 percent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Gross domestic product has since been gradually recovering but surges in infections due to new COVID-19 variants threaten gains. 

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