We have enough money to vaccinate entire adult population — Finance chief

Maris Federez   •   June 15, 2021   •   812

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III is confident that the country has sufficient funds to have the entire adult population of around 70 million and the teenage population of around 15 million, vaccinated.

In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte on Talk to the Nation, Monday night, Dominguez said that Congress has authorized the government to spend P85 billion for the vaccines.

Funding for this will be coming primarily from the budget of the Department of Health in the amount of P2.5-B and the Bayanihan 2 amounting to P10-B billion as part of the General Appropriations Act.

Dominguez added that the department was able to borrow a total of P58.5 billion from Official Development Assistance financing firms such as the World Bank (P23.9-B), Asian Development Bank (P20.3-B), and the Asian Infrastructure [Investment] Bank (P14.3-B).

The Finance chief also said that they are sourcing up to P11.5-B and contingency funds of another P2.5-B.

“But the total so far is we have 85 billion. Now, the money is there so we have enough to buy… With P85-B, we can buy 140 billion — ah 140 million doses of vaccines. Now 140 million doses of vaccines can inoculate — can vaccinate 70 million Filipinos. Now 70 million Filipinos are the entire adult population. So we have enough money to vaccinate the entire adult population,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez also assured that once the Department of Health and the inter-agency COVID-19 task force (IATF) include the country’s teen population of around 15 million in the vaccination program, there will be enough funds to cover it.

“Now, if we have to vaccinate children from 12 to 15… I don’t know if that’s authorized already — from 12 to 15? […] We estimate that will cost another P20 billion but we have enough reserves to cover that amount of money. So we have enough,” he added.

Dominguez stressed that the government’s fund is sufficient for the vaccination program.

“Tamang-tama, sapat po ‘yong ano, ‘yong pera natin para sa vaccination. So we don’t have to worry. The money is there and we will certainly be able to vaccinate the entire adult population plus the teenagers who are I think around 15 million, right? Around 15 million Filipinos. So total 85 million Filipinos,” Dominguez assured. —/mbmf

DOF orders 24/7 processing of tax exemptions for donations to typhoon victims

Robie de Guzman   •   December 23, 2021

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the quick and round-the-clock processing of applications for tax and duty exemptions of donations to communities devastated by Typhoon “Odette,” the Department of Finance (DOF) said Thursday.

In a statement, the DOF said this is in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive on expediting relief and rehabilitation efforts in the disaster-hit areas.

The DOF said Dominguez informed the president in a letter dated Dec. 21, 2021, of the department’s readiness to quickly process applications on the grant of these tax and duty exemptions for imported goods to be donated for “Odette” victims.

“Upon the request of Undersecretary Antonette Tionko, Dominguez tasked several officials and personnel of the Revenue Office (RO) of the DOF to be deployed and work in shifts on a 24-hour period to speed up the processing of Tax Exemption Indorsements (TEIs) and the quick release of importations of donated relief consignments expected to come from various foreign governments and international organizations or institutions,” it said.

Tionko heads the DOF’s Revenue Operations Group (ROG), the DOF said.

Dominguez also approved the request to disseminate to the Office of the President and the public the guidelines and requirements on the issuance of TEIs as provided under Section 121 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

Tionko said she made these requests “pending the issuance of the proclamation by the President declaring a state of national calamity because of Typhoon “Odette” and “in compliance with the President’s call to expedite the delivery of relief and rehabilitation efforts.”

Duterte declared on Dec. 21 a state of calamity in six typhoon-battered areas, including Regions 4B (Mimaropa–Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), 6 (Western Visayas), 7 (Central Visayas), 8 (Eastern Visayas), 10 (Northern Mindanao) and 13 (Caraga).

 The finance department said appropriate government agencies such as the Departments of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and of Health (DOH), and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) may apply for TEIs that grant tax and duty exemptions to importations under Relief Consignment in the Bureau of Customs.

The local government units, as well as private or non-government organizations duly registered, licensed, or accredited by the appropriate government agencies may also apply for TEIs.

“Relief consignments include food, medicine, equipment and materials for shelter, vehicles and other means of transport that are donated or leased to government institutions and accredited private entities, for free distribution to the affected population or for use during relief and rescue operations in disaster-affected areas,” the DOF said.

The department said the application process for tax and duty exemptions has been made easier by shifting the registration process online at https://teslite.dof.gov.ph.

P3B revenues collected from pork imports under reduced tariff, increased MAV system

Robie de Guzman   •   November 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has posted collections amounting to P3 billion from swine meat imports under a reduced tariff system, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

In a statement, the DOF said that the BOC reported 197 million kilograms (kg) of pork imports from April 7 to Nov. 12 this year.

However, the bureau estimated that it has foregone some P3.4 billion in revenues as of November due to the decreased tariff scheme.

The reduced tariff system was implemented in the second quarter of this year to boost the supply of pork and stabilize its retail prices in the domestic market.

To recall, President Rodrigo Duterte had issued a series of executive orders (EOs) that took effect starting April 7 to lower pork import tariffs and increase the allowable import volumes of the meat to help stabilize the domestic supply and prices of this food staple for the benefit of Filipino consumers.

Executive Order (EO) No. 128, which lowered pork import tariffs to 5 percent within its minimum access volume (MAV) and 15 percent outside MAV for the first three months, was in effect from April 7 to May 14.

EO 134, which superseded EO 128, set tariffs on pork imports under the MAV to 10 percent for the first three months, and 15 percent in the next nine months.

For imports outside the MAV, the tariffs are 20 percent for the first three months and 25 percent in the succeeding nine months.

The one-year effectivity of EO 134 began on May 15, 2021.

“To compute for the effect of the two EOs, we multiplied the dutiable value of meat by 25 percent—less 5 percent and 15 percent—which were already paid for EO 128, and multiply the dutiable value by 20 percent and 15 percent for EO 134. The result showed a revenue loss of P3.4 billion,” BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said during a recent meeting with DOF.

Guerrero said the volume of pork imports started spiking in March and continuously grew in April to May, but dropped starting June.

The volume of pork imports in April, the month when the two EOs took effect, grew 500.46 percent, from 4.07 million kg in the same month last year to 24.45 million kg.

“This dramatic increase in pork import volumes continued in May, when a total of 36.5 million kg entered the country, representing a 506-percent hike from the 6.02 million kg imported during the same period in 2020,” the BOC said.

In June, the bureau said that pork imports reached 33.62 million kg, which was 531.39 percent more than the 5.32 million kg brought into the country during the same period last year.

“Pork imports continued its steady drop in July, when volumes totaled 31.18 million kg, which was 370.4 percent more than the 6.63 million kg, recorded in the same month of 2020,” it added.

The agency also noted that in August, pork imports increased 271.59 percent year-on-year, and dropped to 164.55 percent in September and 78.47 percent in October.

The volume of pork imports was 6.41 million kg in August 2020 and 23.82 million kg in August 2021; 9.73 million kg in September 2o20 and 25.73 million kg in September 2021; and 10.85 million kg in October 2020 and 19.36 million kg in October 2021.

From November 1-12, pork imports of 7.47 million kg were lower by 11.64 percent compared to last year’s 8.46 million for the same period.

Suspension of fuel excise tax ‘detrimental’ to PH economic recovery – DOF

Robie de Guzman   •   November 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The proposed suspension of excise taxes amid rising fuel prices will be inequitable and will threaten the country’s recovery and growth prospects, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Monday.

DOF Undersecretary and chief economist Gil Beltran issued the statement following calls by some groups for the suspension of fuel excise taxes after prices of petroleum products spiked for several consecutive weeks.

“The unrealized public spending and investments from the foregone revenues will be detrimental to our economic recovery and long-term growth,” Beltran said.

“A more equitable way to address the impact of higher fuel prices is to provide targeted support to the vulnerable groups, particularly the transportation sector, which the government has already committed to do,” he added.

The DOF estimates that suspending all fuel excise taxes and value-added tax (VAT) on fuel excise will result in foregone revenues amounting to P147.1 billion or around 0.7 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022.

If the tax suspension covers only the fuel excise taxes and the VAT on fuel excise under Republic Act (RA) No. 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law, the government is estimated to lose P119.5 billion or around 0.5 percent of GDP in the same year, it added.

While consumption will be slightly higher at an estimated incremental of 0.6 to 0.7 percentage point, growth will actually be lower by 0.1 to 0.2 percentage point, if the excise tax and VAT on it are suspended, the department further stated.

Beltran also stressed that higher income households are estimated to benefit from the suspension more than lower income households.

“With the suspension of fuel excise taxes, we will lose the improvements we made under TRAIN in making the tax system more equitable, in which those who are more financially capable pay more taxes,” he said.

The DOF noted that higher income households are estimated to benefit 60 percent more than lower income households from the suspension of fuel excise taxes.

With the tax relief that would accompany the suspension of fuel excise taxes, the disposable income of the top 10 percent of households is estimated to increase by around 0.63 to 0.82 percent on average in 2022, it added.

Meanwhile, the disposable income of the bottom 50 percent of households is estimated to increase by only around 0.34 to 0.45 percent.

Beltran said a more equitable way to address the impact of higher fuel prices is to “provide targeted support to the vulnerable groups, particularly the transportation sector.”

The government earlier said it will release P1 billion fund for cash grants to 178,000 public utility vehicle drivers for the remaining months of the year through the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

Once spent, the cash grants are estimated to result to an incremental P2.9 billion pesos-worth of growth in the economy, the DOF said.

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