MANILA

Pimentel seeks removal of travel tax

CAGAYAN DE ORO. Senator Aquilino Pimentel III delivers a speech in Cagayan de Oro City. (Photo from Pimentel's Facebook page)

SENATOR Aquilino Pimentel III wants travel tax being imposed on Filipinos traveling to any part of the world removed.

Pimentel filed Senate Bill 1841, saying the Filipinos' right to travel abroad should not be burdened with the travel tax imposition.

He said the travel tax, especially for those traveling to Asean countries, should have been in effect since November 2002 when the regional intergovernmental tourism agreement was signed.

He said the Philippines was one of those countries that signed the deal, which has removed the travel tax and levies on nationals of member-states who are traveling within the Asean region.

"It has been almost 14 years since the Philippines signed the Asean Tourism Agreement but as of date, travel taxes are still imposed upon individuals traveling to other Asean member-States," he said in a statement.

Travel tax, which ranges from P300 to P2,700, was originally imposed to conserve foreign exchange and curtail unnecessary foreign travels. The collection of it was first imposed in 1977 by then President Ferdinand Marcos.

Marcos issued the Presidential Decree 1183 to provide adequate funds for infrastructure and tourism-related programs to help make the country, as a tourist destination, more competitive.

But Pimentel, in his bill, said Filipinos are already paying the income tax, thus should not asked anymore to pay for infrastructure and tourism facilities.

"They should not be made to pay for the failure of the national government to provide state of the art tourism facilities and infrastructure," he said.

He noted that Section 73 of Republic Act 9593, or the Tourism Act of 2009, already provides for alternative funding sources for the programs funded by the travel tax.

He proposed that agencies receiving proceeds from travel tax collections should instead get the funding from the General Appropriations Act.

Agencies that receive proceeds from travel tax collection are the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, Commission on Higher Education, and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Pimentel said that if the bill is passed into law, flights that are scheduled on or after the effectivity of the measure, as well as those travel taxes collected prior to the effectivity of the bill shall be refunded immediately. (LMY/With PR/SunStar Philippines)


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