THE House of Representatives approved on Monday, September 9, 2019, two priority bills, namely, House Bill (HB) 304 or the “Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act” (Pifita), and HB 300 or the “Amendment of the Foreign Investments Act (FIA)”.
These are the second and third priority bills, respectively that were passed in the 18th Congress, after the bill imposing additional excise taxes on alcohol, tobacco and vaping products was approved on August 20.
Notably, the early and swift approval of these three priority measures, while multiple budget hearings were ongoing, is an unprecedented feat in the House of Representatives, a press release from Speaker Alan Cayetano said.
The Pifita bill garnered 186 affirmative votes, 6 negative votes and 2 abstentions. Meanwhile, the FIA Amendment bill had 201 affirmative votes, 6 negative votes and 7 abstentions, the press release said.
Principally authored by Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda (2nd District, Albay), chairman of the committee on ways and means, the Pifita bill seeks to amend the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997 and reform the financial sector in the Philippines.
Salceda said the enactment of Pifita will allow the country to compete better in attracting capital and investment, which is urgently needed to fund infrastructure, create more and better jobs and boost inclusive and sustainable growth of the economy.
“The inclusion of the capital income and financial services in the current administration’s comprehensive tax reform program provides a window of opportunity to achieve the much-needed reform in the financial sector,” he said.
The FIA Amendment bill, principally authored by Rep. Victor Yap (2nd District, Tarlac), seeks to amend Republic Act No. 7042, as amended, otherwise known as the “Foreign Investment Act of 1991,” by allowing foreigners to practice their professions in the Philippines, and reducing the required number of local hires for certain businesses.
Rep. Sharon Garin, (Party-list, AAMBIS-OWA), chairperson of the House committee on economic affairs, said in her sponsorship speech on the FIA Amendment bill that in the last 10 years, foreign direct investments to the country have continuously remained at low levels, US$3.93 billion on the average. Garin also highlighted the benefits of Filipinos working alongside foreign professionals in the Philippines.
She said, “Allowing skilled professionals to work in our country would boost the competitiveness of our human resource. By working with professionals from more advanced countries, Filipinos gain fresh perspectives and new knowledge, broadening the skills set they may already have.”
House Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr. hailed the swift approval of the Pifita and the Amendment of the FIA bills, saying both measures are very important and timely.
He said the Pifita bill represents the 4th Package of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) of the administration while the Amendment of the FIA bill is among the legislative priorities of the House of Representatives.
“This is another record-breaking feat of the House of Representatives which was made possible under the leadership of Speaker Cayetano. Because of our effective legislative process, the Pifita and Amended FIA bills were thoroughly discussed and debated upon prior to their final approval,” Villafuerte said. (PR)