Philippines, Japan ink 50-B yen standby loan deal for post-disaster efforts

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2020   •   363

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.

BIR collects over P500-M in taxes from padlocked establishments – DOF

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has collected a total of P547.9 million in taxes from January to September this year from 178 commercial establishments that were padlocked earlier for failing to either register or pay the correct amount of taxes, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Wednesday.

In a statement, the DOF said BIR’s operations conducted against the padlocked establishments were pursuant to Revenue Memorandum Order (RMO) No. 3-2009, otherwise known as the “Oplan Kandado Program.”

In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, the BIR said it has also filed 14 cases before the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) in a bid to collect some P338 million in tax liabilities from various respondents.

Meanwhile, 72 complaints involving an estimated P3.4 billion in tax liabilities that the bureau has filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) are now under preliminary investigation, BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel Guballa said in his report.

Last year, the BIR collected a total of P1.92 billion under its Oplan Kandado program as a result of the temporary closure of 743 establishments for various violations of the National Internal Revenue Code.

BIR’s performance under the Oplan Kandado program in 2019 was a 218.88-percent improvement over its 233 closures of establishments reported in 2018 and a 140.76-percent increase in collections amounting to P799.47 million during that year.

Also in 2019, the BIR filed a total of 347 complaints involving tax liabilities estimated to be worth P24.02 billion combined before either the DOJ or CTA as part of the Duterte administration’s all-out campaign against tax evaders.

Under its Run After Tax Evaders (RATE) program, 309 cases for preliminary investigation were filed by the bureau before the DOJ last year for tax liabilities of various individuals and corporations estimated at P19.06 billion combined.

The DOF said this was a marked improvement of 56.85 percent over the 197 cases filed by the BIR in 2018 involving some P15 billion-worth of tax liabilities.

In the CTA, the bureau has filed 38 cases for tax liabilities worth P4.94 billion combined, or more than triple the 12 cases filed before the tax appeals court in 2018.

The cases filed before the CTA involving close to P5 billion in tax liabilities represent a 480.67 percent increase over the estimated P851.57 million in taxes that the BIR had hoped to collect in 2018 through litigation, the DOF said.

Finance Department oders PITC to remit unused public funds

Marje Pelayo   •   December 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) ordered the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) to remit all income from interests it generated from various government agencies so the fund may used for the government’s response against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and relief efforts to areas affected by the recent typhoons.

In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez wrote to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez who chairs the PITC Board to remit to the national treasury a total of P1.1 billion that the corporation collected from the years 2018 and 2019.

The said amount was the balance of the interest income from funds of various government agencies supposedly for equipment that has been noted as “parked” funds in the state-run corporation.

The DOF noted that in 2019, the PITC had a trust liabilities of P33-B while from the start of this year to October it had P32.6-B.

“Following our discussion, we would like to request the return to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) by PITC, the interest earned on such funds held in trust. From 2018 to 2019, the interest earned on such funds totaled P1.151 billion,” Sec. Dominguez confirmed.

Dominguez cited a Commission on Audit (COA) report which stresses that PITC’s non-remittance of the said fund to the National Treasury is a clear violation of the Government Auditing Code of the Philippines.

Prior to this, Dominguez also notified Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado through a letter of his order to PITC to return the P33-B to the national treasury.

Senator Franklin Drilon who raised the issue on the ‘parked’ unused public funds at PITC suggested the termination of the agency citing the problems it causes the government for concealing public funds. 

Also, Drilon said PITC seems to be a duplication of government function because the Budget Department also has an existing procurement service, not to mention each government agency’s Bids and Awards Committee that do similar work as PITC. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Finance chief orders BIR, BOC to probe coops used for rice imports

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs to assist in the investigation being conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) into the reported use of cooperatives by private traders as dummies for rice imports.

“There’s this question now as to why traders are using coops to import rice …. Let’s look into that because they might be using the tax advantage on rice imports,” Dominguez told BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay and BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero during a recent executive committee meeting.

Dominguez issued the directive following the DA’s decision to temporarily halt the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSIC) to farmers’ cooperatives and irrigators’ associations for commercial purposes.

Through Administrative Order No. 34 issued in October, the DA suspended the SPSICs to coops and irrigators’ associations, effectively barring them from importing rice, after the DA received reports that these organizations have resorted to rice imports rather than carry out their purpose of procuring local rice from farmers.

Both the DOF and DA have also received reports that the SPSICs issued to cooperatives have been misused by traders to avoid legal responsibilities and evade the payment of the correct amount of import taxes.

Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko also noted that while cooperatives are not exempted from paying duties for importing rice, they can be exempted from paying the income tax on these imports if they are registered with the BIR as tax-exempt entities.

Through the AO, the DA directed the Bureau of Plant Industry to probe and to consult with affected stakeholders “to come up with new policies and rules to avoid circumvention of the laws” and to protect the farmers and cooperatives form exploitation.

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