House panel OKs Trabaho bill

MANILA, Philippines – The House committee on ways and means approved the bill containing the second batch of tax reforms proposed by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. 

On Wednesday, August 14, 27 committee members voted in favor of House Bill (HB) No. 313, which is the re-filed version of the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and Higher Quality Opportunities (Trabaho) bill from the previous 17th Congress. 

Only Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas and Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate voted 'no'.

The Trabaho bill aims to gradually cut corporate income taxes starting 2021, eventually bringing down the current 30% to 20% by 2029. (READ: Things you need to know about Trabaho bill)

The measure also seeks to rationalize fiscal incentives or remove certain perks. The Trabaho bill retains the current incentives for two years, for investors to have enough time to adjust to the new tax scheme. Perks will now also be targeted, time-bound, and transparent.

The Department of Finance estimated that the government lost some P178 billion in potential revenue in 2016 due to redundant tax incentives.

The Philippine Ecozones Association, however, remains opposed to the bill, warning that the second batch of tax reforms would have a negative impact on foreign direct investments in economic zones across the country.

This would mean job losses, lower production output and exports, capital flight, and other setbacks that would offset the gains in ecozones.

But Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua previously said job losses would only be "very minimal." He said that while some jobs may be cut from some sectors, employment in other sectors would experience growth due to lower corporate income taxes.

The House committee on ways and means conducted two hearings to discuss HB 313, which was among the priority measures cited by Duterte in his 4th State of of the Nation Address.

Committee chairperson and Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda is expected to sponsor HB 313 for second reading during the plenary session on Wednesday afternoon. 

The House passed the Trabaho bill on 3rd and final reading in the previous 17th Congress, but the measure did not fly in the Senate. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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