Solon: Mining, manufacturing sectors can boost economy

July 11, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 779 views

A HOUSE leader on Sunday touted “encouraging” growth numbers in export sales of the mining and manufacturing sectors, saying that “with the right policy and environment, these sectors can help our economy rebound more strongly.”

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, made the comments in response to preliminary Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data, which showed merchandise exports during the month went up by 29.8% year on year to $5.89 billion.

Exports of manufactured goods grew by 35.2% to $4.96 billion in May. Manufactured goods accounted for 84.2% of total export sales over that period.

Electronic products, comprising 69.1% of manufactured goods and 58.2% of total exported goods, expanded by 25.4% to $3.43 billion in May. Of these, semiconductors contributed $2.53 billion, an increase of 11.3% from last year.

The sales of mineral products also increased by 23.4% to $460.83 million from $373.44 million.

“As I’ve always discussed in all my presentations to the business community, the manufacturing industry, particularly the electronics sector, and the minerals sector will be among our economic saviors during this pandemic.

The demand for electronics, and the minerals that make up their parts, has been impervious to the decline in overall consumption,” Salceda said.

“These sectors will continue to be strong, as sales volumes increase even as prices remain elevated. Until the global semiconductor shortage is addressed – and it takes time to build new manufacturing capacity – we will continue to see both sectors have significant pricing power. The Philippines is a leading electronics manufacturer in the region, and is also among the most mine-rich countries in the world,” Salceda said.

“Add to that the growing demand for electric vehicles, a trend that will only grow stronger as both China and the United States make major investments in the area,” Salceda commented.

Salceda also added that “both the manufacturing and mining sectors need policies that enable growth and encourage them to make the right business decisions.”

“The Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act is the best tool for growth in these areas, as both Mining and the Electronics export sector are in the 2020 Investment Priorities Plan, all of which will be in the Strategic Investment Priorities Plan mandated by CREATE,” Salceda said.

Salceda, however, said that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) must consider adding “value added in minerals” as a higher tier in the grant of tax incentives.

“Value-added in minerals should have more tax incentives than mere extraction. The problem with our metallic mining sector is that much of our extracted resources is transformed into higher-value goods in places like Hong Kong. We can do better by creating value-added here in the Philippines. That will create more jobs and generate more compensatory revenues to rehabilitate mining areas and protect communities,” Salceda explained.

Under the CREATE Law, domestic industries get 4-7 years of income tax holidays, and 5 years of enhanced deductions. Exporters get 4-7 years of ITH and 10 years of enhanced deductions or a special corporate income tax rate of 5% of gross income.

“Value-added in mining will be export-oriented, so they will get more incentives, if we subdivide that as its own distinct classification in the SIPP. I recommend that the DTI takes this direction when it finalizes the SIPP,” Salceda said.

Salceda also revived calls to pass a fiscal regime for the mining sector, following the lifting of the moratorium on the approval of new mining agreements through the issuance of Executive Order No. 130.

“We still need a tax regime for mining, because the EO only clarifies who will negotiate with mining companies on the government’s take from their revenues. The baseline regime upon which to negotiate is not yet there,” Salceda added. The House tax chief is also a principal sponsor of House Bill (HB) No. 6135, which creates a fiscal regime for mining.