DOF-backed measures prioritized by LEDAC advance in Congress

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno reported to media on September 22, 2023 the progress of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) priority bills supported by the Department of Finance (DOF) in Congress.

According to Secretary Diokno, LEDAC recently added five more measures for inclusion in the Common Legislative Agenda for the 19th Congress.

“The Department of Finance welcomes the inclusion of the Excise Tax on Single-Use Plastics bill and the Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime,” he said in a statement.

The DOF is now endorsing the passage of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Bill; Real Property Valuation and Assessment (RPVAR) Bill; Ease of Paying Taxes (EOPT) Bill; Automatic Income Classification of Local Government Units Bill; Excise Tax on Single-Use Plastics (SUPs) Bill; and the Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime Bill.

On September 19, 2023, the Senate approved the EOPT Bill, sponsored by Senator Win Gatchalian, on second reading. It will simplify tax filings for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), allow for the electronic filing of taxes, shift to an invoice system to accelerate value-added tax (VAT) refunds, and create a special division in the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for small and medium taxpayers.

The following day, on September 20, the Senate approved the PPP Bill on second reading. The measure was sponsored by Senator JV Ejercito.

The PPP Bill will consolidate all legal frameworks and create a unified system for investors to refer to when engaging in PPP projects.

“We are hopeful that it will be approved by the Senate on third reading by Monday, September 25,” Secretary Diokno said.

The government has already implemented various reforms to establish a stable and predictable PPP policy environment.

The revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law strengthens the financial viability and bankability of PPP projects; the improved Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) Guidelines on PPP approvals ensures faster processing and approval of PPPs; and the enhanced National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Joint Venture (JV) Guidelines aligns with the revised IRR of the BOT Law and the proposed PPP Act.

Meanwhile, the bill on Automatic Income Classification of LGUs was approved by both Houses of the Congress on August 30, 2023.

“When signed into law, the measure will institutionalize an income classification system reflective of the financial capability of provinces, cities, and municipalities,” Secretary Diokno said.

The bill proposing the imposition of excise tax on SUPs has already been approved on third reading by the House of Representatives and is now pending in the Senate. The measure is expected to curb SUP usage by almost 25 percent while generating around PHP 6.5 billion in revenues in 2024, or the first year of implementation.

Package 3 is also pending on second reading in the Senate. The proposed measure will boost investor confidence through the adoption of internationally accepted valuation standards and the professionalization of real property valuation.

Lastly, the bill on Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime which will simplify the tax system of the extractives sector and make it competitive with other countries, has been approved on second reading in the lower House.