Recto scoffs at DOF's hesitance to accept minor CREATE amendments

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 24 2020 11:09 PM

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto delivers a manifestation in plenary on March 23, 2020. Henzberg Austria, Senate PRIB/file

MANILA - Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Tuesday scoffed at the Department of Finance (DOF) for nitpicking on several proposed amendments to the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) bill.

Recto expressed his dismay at the DOF after the agency declined to immediately accept several amendments, including one that only sought to clarify the language of the bill.

"It's a simple language, if we cannot agree on this issue I doubt we can agree moving forward," Recto said.

"I would strongly recommend that the DOF, on small issues of this nature, allow us to proceed and not to bog down every single provision," he said.

Recto wanted to specify "what amount [of investments] can be delegated" to various agencies including the investment promotion agency (IPA), Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) and the Office of the President.

The senator was also ticked off after the DOF showed hesitance in accepting an amendment that would allow land to be "registered as capital."

"Land should be registered as capital for registered real estate development. What is wrong with that? I do not see anything wrong with that," Recto said.

"Everyone will need to have land to begin with to put up their business, especially if you're going to put up eco zones," he said.

"It will be hard to move forward when on such a simple issue, the DOF does not understand," he said.

Senate Committee on Ways and Means chair Pia Cayetano, who is sponsoring the the CREATE bill in plenary, said she also needed some time to consider some of Recto's proposed amendments.

"I'm also trying to simplify it. I don't just side with DOF," Cayetano said.

"I'm also trying to recall what provisions I feel would be affected by this provision," she said.

Recto said he was willing to "move on" after Cayetano opted to defer discussions on some contentious amendments.

Among the other CREATE bill changes Recto pushed for were the repeal of a 3 percent gross tax that will be imposed on micro and small businesses, as well as putting special economic zones developers in the Tier 1 bracket.

Industries and businesses classified as Tier 1 are identified as "basic activities" that are entitled to receive incentives under the tax rationalization measure.

Recto's home province Batangas is recognized as the "Industrial Port City of Calabarzon" and is "one of the fastest urbanizing cities in the country" thanks to various ecozones in the Southern Luzon province.

The senator has been pushing to retain some incentives for these ecozones to discourage investors from taking their business elsewhere and risking the jobs of thousands of Filipinos.

The Senate is expected to pass the CREATE bill on second and third reading on November 25.