PH gov’t assures balance between economy, public health amid global pandemic
Robie de Guzman • August 11, 2020 • 591
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) has assured the business community that the national government will continue to carry out the difficult balancing act of saving lives with as little damage to the economy as possible amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III vowed that the Duterte administration will intensify its efforts to “solidify the country’s return to the path of inclusive growth” in the face of the global health and economic crisis.
“The Duterte administration will not rest until we have prevailed over this extraordinary challenge. We will redouble our efforts to protect our economic gains over the past three years, prepare our economy for a strong recovery, strengthen our resilience, and solidify our return to the path of inclusive growth,” Dominguez said.
He also urged the business community to continue its support in the government’s efforts to curb the pandemic until a vaccine brings ppl a definitive end to the unprecedented public health crisis.
Dominguez noted that like almost every other pandemic-stricken economy in the world, the Philippines has taken a serious hit.
He pointed out that the 16.5-percent contraction of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter “underlines the effects of the 11-week strict lockdown that the government put in place from the second week of March to the end of May.”
“We are not alone in our struggles, although the unique fiscal and macroeconomic strengths with which we entered 2020 will continue to provide us with solid footing as we confront our economic challenges,” Dominguez said.
The finance chief, however, noted that signs of recovery are emerging, including the increased import volumes and higher excise and value-added taxes as reported by the Bureaus of Customs and of Internal Revenue.
“We have also learned from the industry leaders that business activities in various sectors of the economy have started to pick up following the economic standstill during the lockdown,” he said.
“In general, most firms reported that they have begun to see a gradual sales recovery in June, coinciding with the partial reopening of the economy,” he added.
He also cited the slower declines of trade data indicators as among the positive indications of rising economic activity in the country.
“Even as we navigate through very difficult circumstances, we intend to maintain fiscal discipline, make our financial sector more inclusive, and introduce more reforms that will help us consolidate a pro-business environment,” he said.
While the decision to place back Metro Manila and neighboring areas under the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) will negatively affect livelihoods, consumer demand and production in the short run, Dominguez believes this will still benefit the country in the long haul if the two-week timeout is used to boost medical resources and prevent the spread of the virus.
President Rodrigo Duterte on August 2 announced his decision to revert Metro Manila, Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal to MECQ from August 4 to 18 following the medical community’s appeal for a breather amid rising cases of coronavirus disease in the country.
MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is ramping up its campaign against rice smuggling even amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic by conducting raids on warehouses suspected of storing illegally imported grains following reports from concerned citizens, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In a statement on Tuesday, the DOF said that Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero has assured Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III that rice stocks imported by private traders during the pandemic would still be subject to “post-modification and post audit.”
This system will ensure that undervalued shipments are properly assessed and subsequently paid with the correct amount of duties and taxes.
Guerrero also said he had informed the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) that because rice is considered a “critical” commodity, traders were allowed to avail of the Provisional Goods Declaration in processing their shipments at this time of the coronavirus pandemic.
The FFF earlier questioned the BOC’s assessment and valuation system on the entry of rice imports.
“The BOC has found the valuation of several rice shipments with provisional goods declaration to be quite low compared to the prevailing market prices,” Guerrero said in his report to Dominguez.
“But those are subject to post-modification and post-audit. And in the meantime, we are still conducting the post-modification, verifying the payments of rice because some of them are clearly undervalued. So we will catch up in the post modification and post-audit,” he added.
Under Customs Memorandum Order (CMO) No. 07-2020, if the Customs district/sub-port collector accepts a provisional goods declaration, the duty and tax treatment of the goods under provisional declaration will not be different from that of goods with complete declaration.
For the release of shipments under tentative assessment, the importer will be required to post the required security, whether in the form of surety bond or cash bond.
Guerrero said the customs bureau has also responded to reports by concerned citizens regarding warehouses suspected of storing smuggled rice stocks by immediately issuing letters of authority to enable BOC officers to inspect such warehouses and seize goods without the requisite importation permits.
“We actually raided them and we found out that many of these warehouses were operating legally and their stocks are covered by proper documents,” Guerrero said.
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Japan signed an agreement for a 50 billion yen (around P23.3 billion) standby loan which aims to quickly disburse funding support for the government’s response to national calamities or health emergency, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In a statement, the DOF said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chief Representative Eigo Azukizawa signed the deal Tuesday on the second phase of the post-disaster standby loan (PDSL).
Under this agreement, the DOF said the disbursement of the standby loan to the Philippines will be triggered by either of the following circumstances: the declaration of a state of calamity; or the declaration of a state of public health emergency.
In the case of the current COVID-19 pandemic or any other public health emergencies, the imposition of an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or its equivalent in the National Capital Region (NCR) or in any other highly urbanized area in the country will also trigger the disbursement of the loan, it added.
“The ongoing pandemic underscores the need to further improve our policy and institutional framework for disaster risk reduction and management. It likewise emphasizes the need to build our financial resilience against disasters and similar emergencies,” Dominguez said during the ceremonial signing of the loan deal at the DOF office in Manila.
The loan will be available for quick disbursement in tranches within three years once it is declared effective. It may be extended for an additional three-year period for up to four times.
The financing package under PDSL carries a fixed interest rate of 0.01 percent with a maturity of 40 years, inclusive of a 10-year grace period.
Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda welcomed the agreement, saying that “as a calamity prone country like the Philippines, Japan fully understands the value of safeguarding lives, infrastructure and livelihood.”
The signing of this loan accord comes after a separate 50-billion yen loan inked by both countries in July for the COVID-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan, which aims to assist the Philippine government’s efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease and aid Filipinos most affected by the pandemic.
MANILA, Philippines – Taxpayers who have yet to pay their liabilities will now be able to settle them without an audit, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Monday.
In a statement, the DOF said it has issued Revenue Regulations No. 21-2020 for the implementation of the Voluntary Assessment and Payment Program (VAPP) for the taxable year 2018.
“The VAPP allows taxpayers to voluntarily pay their unpaid internal revenue tax liabilities–with or without an ongoing audit of or investigation into their finances– and those who do so will no longer be audited or investigated for 2018 for the tax types availed,” it said.
The finance department said the VAAP program covers all internal revenue taxes due for the taxable year ending December 31, 2018, and for fiscal year 2018 ending on the last day of July 2018 to June 2019.
It likewise covers one-time transactions (ONETT) such as the payment of estate taxes, donor’s taxes and capital gains taxes (CGT), as well as ONETT-related creditable withholding taxes (CWT) or expanded withholding taxes and documentary stamp taxes (DST), it added.
The DOF, however, said that taxpayers who wish to avail of the VAPP must generally pay the higher of a certain percentage of 2018 gross sales or 2018 taxable net income, based on the increase or decrease in total taxes paid from taxable years 2017 to 2018, subject to minimum amounts based on subscribed capital.
The department expressed hope that the program will increase its tax collections while providing taxpayers an easy and affordable way to settle their unpaid tax deficiencies.
The program will run until December 31, 2020, the DOF said.
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