House panel OKs bill on tax-free COVID-19 vaccines, medical supplies

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 08 2021 03:26 PM

House panel OKs bill on tax-free COVID-19 vaccines, medical supplies 1
A vial of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Basingstoke Fire Station, in Basingstoke, Britain, Feb. 4, 2021. Peter Cziborra, Reuters/File

MANILA - A bill granting tax exemptions to COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and medical supplies in the country's fight against the illness has been approved by the House Committee on Ways and Means, a lawmaker said Monday.

Under House Bill 8584, the measure seeks to amend the National Internal Revenue Code to make testing, treatment, vaccination and domestic manufacture of anti-coronavirus jabs affordable.

"Its approval of HB 8584 for consolidation with House Bills 8301, 8324, 8375, and 8376 proves the resolve of the House to carry its share of the burden in the fight against COVID-19," BWH party-list Rep. Angelica Natasha Co said in a statement.

As author of the bill, she said " everything needed in the fight against COVID-19 must be tax-free regardless of country of origin, manufacturer, and whether for the public vaccination program or for private inoculation by a health professional."

This will include value-added tax, excise tax, import duties, administrative fees and local taxes.

The measure also seeks to exempt from tax importation materials for a possible local mass production of COVID-19 shots.

"Maybe next year or 2 years from now, we need to have a local production of COVID vaccines in case of global supply shortage," Co said in Filipino.

The Philippines has so far logged over 537,000 coronavirus infections, of which more than 11,000 have resulted to deaths. The nationwide tally includes nearly 500,000 recoveries and over 26,000 active cases.

The government aims to inoculate two-thirds of its population or around 70 million people against the novel coronavirus this year, which may start next week.

The country's first COVID-19 vaccine batch will arrive in "mid-February" from the COVAX Facility, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Monday.

It will get some 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines under the global alliance COVAX Facility in the first quarter, including 117,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine expected to arrive by the third week of February.