House OKs corporate tax reform bill on final reading, to send measure to Senate

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2019 03:53 PM | Updated as of Sep 13 2019 07:04 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - The House of Representatives on Friday approved on third and final reading the second round of tax reforms, which would cut corporate income taxes and limit incentives. 

The chamber approved House Bill No. 4157 or the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA) with 170 lawmakers voting yes, 8 no, and 6 abstaining. 

The bill will be transmitted to the Senate. 

The measure aims to cut the corporate income tax rate to 20 percent from 30 percent over a 10-year period. 

It also limits fiscal incentives granted to select firms by removing the option for corporations, including resident foreign corporations, to avail of the 15 percent gross income tax. 

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House Ways and Means Committee Chair Joey Salceda welcomed the developing, calling the bill “the centerpiece legislation of Duterte Administration and the most significant economic legislation after the 1987 Constitution with [a] positive footprint on almost every sector of our economy.”

He said CITIRA may benefit small and medium scale enterprises, which employ a chunk of the Philippine labor force. It is expected to generate 1.566 million jobs, add 1.1 percent to GDP growth in the first year and 3.6 percent annually from 2020 to 2030, while contributing to inflation by only 0.9 percent, Salceda said. 

THE OPPOSITION

Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza, meanwhile, called the measure "CITIRAdor," a play on the name of the measure and "tirador," Tagalog for "hit man." 

He panned his colleagues for failing to subject the proposal through thorough debate. The bill availed of the House rule that allows the House to fast track the passage of a bill that was already approved in a preceding Congress.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the measure would work against the poor. 

“Verily, CITIRA favors artificial beings owned by the rich, while the TRAIN Law burdens human beings, principally the poor," he said, the latter a reference to the first round of tax reforms blamed for high prices of consumer goods last year. 

Lagman expressed concern that the bill's rationalization of fiscal incentives might cut jobs or trigger capital flight. 

Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, meanwhile, said the bill allows the President to award land rights and water resources and grant power subsidies to ecozone locators supposedly as part of the incentives, “taking away whatever is left for Filipinos.”

- with reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News