Salceda seeks 'fairer' tax provisions in San Miguel's new Bulacan airport

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 28 2020 01:58 PM

Exterior design studies for SMC's proposed New Manila International Airport project in Bulakan, Bulacan. San Miguel Corp

MANILA - House Committee on Ways and Means chair Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said Friday some tax provisions should be revised on the bill granting a franchise to San Miguel Corp's "blue whale" Bulacan airport project.

In a statement Salceda said, he is in favor of the project but that some tax provisions must be changed to make it "fairer."

"By making the tax provisions fairer, we are making sure that the public gets more returns from this project," Salceda earlier said.

The new P740-billion international airport in Bulacan will result in job generation, infrastructure spending and spur economic activities in the area despite an estimated foregone revenues during the construction period, Salceda said.

"The foregone "notional" revenues during the construction is estimated to be around P38 billion and around P1.5 to P2 billion annually once the airport begins to operate," he said.

Several of his suggested revisions in the original House Bill 7241 were approved during the deliberations which he said include to ring-fence the grantee, divide ecozone and franchise provisions into two bills, ensure that normal taxes are paid once investment costs were recovered, and anything above the 12 percent profit margin should go the government, he said.

His fifth suggestion, that there should be no GIE (tax on gross income earned) on the ecozone, will be further discussed, he said.

"I didn’t want to say no to this project. I want this investment to happen. But I also could not affirm some of its original tax provisions. That said, I would like to advise my colleagues in the House leadership, and our counterparts in the executive, that we cannot afford to be ideological during a crisis," Salceda said.

"I am a fiscalist. Under normal conditions, I almost always align with our tax authorities. But, the size of the economic crisis, the size of this investment, and the size of its potential benefits are clearly not normal," he added.

Salceda said he is optimistic that the House of Representatives and the Executive Department could "come to an agreement" on the final provisions.

"This airport is a blue whale – and it’s from a domestic investor, so we do not even need to cede tax privileges to a foreign company. I hope we can come to an agreement on the final provisions," he said.

The new airport to be built in Bulakan, Bulacan, some 30 kilometers north of Metro Manila is expected to decongest the country's main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

-- with a report from Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News