Committee on Ways and Means

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The Committee of Ways and Means headed by Rep. Joey Salceda discussed the following bill:

A.) A bill institutionalizing microfinance programs to give a accessibility to capital to mirco, small and medium enterprises (MSME). The committee approved the said measure.

B.) A bill granting hazard pay to judges of the first and second-level trial courts. The Committee approved the bill but Rep. Salceda recommended a Technical Work Group to have a precedent to the subsequent related proposals such as hazardous pay to the front liners.

There is a question whether or not the hazardous pay are subjected to tax. The chairman believes that hazardous pay should not be subjected to any taxation. Rep. Salceda reiterated that the precedent must be rational and feasible. The bill was approved amending section 2 and members of the committee will propose an amendments once the bill is on the floor.

C.) A bill Regulating the use of treatment technology for municipal and hazardous wastes, repealing for the purpose Section 20 of RA 8749, or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999. Section 9 of the said bill has a lot of complications. The recent tax exemption reform of the Department of Finance (DOF) wanted the bill to have further deliberations.

D.) Providing for a comprehensive and rationalized grant of rewards to informers for the discovery of violations of Internal Revenue and Customs laws

E.) HB 6507 – A house bill of Deputy Speaker D.V Savellano aiming to Institutionalize a task force against illicit trade of tobacco products following illicit trade involving small to mid-size factories operating in various parts of the Philippines. It must be noted that many of these factories are operated by foreign nationals. There are increased raids conducted by the authorities– two (2) illegal factories raided in 2016 and 2017and up to seven (7) and twelve (12) in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Based on estimates, one company can produce more than 3.6 million sticks of cigarettes per day or about 43.68 million packs per year.

The government is losing around P 1.965 billion per company.

Another House Bill authored by Deputy Speaker Savellano, HB 6508 otherwise known as An act amending sections 129, 164, and 225 of RA 8424, as amended by addressing the illicit trade of tobacco products to better protect public health interests and ensure the proper collection of taxes is also discussed by the committee.

F.) House Resolution 79 was also authored by a solon from Ilocos Sur. The solon urged an investigation into the manufacturing of illegal cigarettes, fake cigarette labels, fake revenue stamps and smuggling of fake cigarettes.

Rep. Suansing of Sultan Kudarat suggested that there must be a stronger coordination among the executive department. It was also supported by Rep. Nograles noting that digitization to improve communication is one of the few step to address the issue.

Rep. Garin of OWWA Ambis reiterated that there must be a coordination between the Philippine Government and Chinese Government since according to the BOC the packaging and materials are mostly of Chinese materials.

Rep. Suansing of Nueva Ecija, believes that the Philippine Economic Zone Authority should strengthen its policy in identifying and monitoring the site because majority of the illegal factories are using PEZA accredited companies for export.

PEZA together with DOF, BIR and BOC should coordinate better because this problem needs a multi-level approach.

The next committee hearing is scheduled on August 10, 2020.

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