House solon files COVID supplies tax exemption bill

August 12, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 248 views

A House leader filed the COVID-19 Supplies Tax Exemption Act, in response to President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s request for Congress to make medical oxygen supplies tax-free.

“This is an emergency, as well as a presidential request. So, we’ll take it up next week,” Albay rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, after filing House Bill (HB) No. 9958 or the COVID-19 Supplies Tax Exemption Act said.

Under Salceda’s bill, the Secretary of Finance and the Secretary of Health shall jointly and periodically issue during the effectivity of the act a list of critical or needed supplies for the prevention, control, and treatment of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), including healthcare equipment and supplies, whose manufacture, sale, or importation shall be exempt from import duties, taxes, and other fees. These shall include medical oxygen.

The Finance chief shall issue the rules and regulations for the implementation of the section.

“The provision intends to be general, so that we don’t have to legislate for each and every specific supply. The Secretary of Finance can simply invoke the rule as needed,” Salceda said.

Salceda’s bill also empowers the Finance secretary upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health and Secretary of Trade and Industry, to suspend thresholds on required export sales for availment of privileges under Title XIII of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, for goods critically needed for the prevention, control, and treatment of COVID-19, or for specific registered business enterprises manufacturing such goods.

“This will allow PEZA-registered enterprises to sell their goods to the domestic market when we need it,” Salceda said.

“Anyway, the Secretary of Finance may or may not choose to invoke the power. As long as it’s there for when we need it,” Salceda added.

The effectivity of the proposed bill is until December 2022, which Salceda says “is probably long enough to achieve herd immunity.”

“The bill will also allow us to procure syringes and other COVID-19 needs when we need it, tax free,” Salceda said.

During Tuesday’s national briefing, Duterte said that “Maybe I’ll talk to Congress to give you tax relief for what you are doing — for you are producing a very vital component in the fight against the COVID-19 and the variant, Delta.”

Salceda assured the President that his committee will prioritize the bill’s passage.