House Committee on Ways and Means approves Bangsamoro bill

MANILA, May 26 (PNA) — The House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means approved with amendments the provisions in the proposed Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region specific to taxation and wealth-sharing.

The committee, chaired by Marikina City Rep. Romero Quimbo, acted on the proposed measure after it was referred by the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) last week.

GPH (Government of the Philippines) chief peace negotiator Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer and panel member Senen Bacani were present to serve as resource persons.

Also present were Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Ging Deles and Commissioners Hussein Munoz and Timuay Melanio Ulama of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.

During the discussion on the share of the Bangsamoro in the national taxes that will be collected in its territories, Bacani clarified that the shares of the local government units (LGUs) in the Bangsamoro cannot be diminished.

“Of the 70% share under Republic Act No. 9054, 35% are enjoyed by local government units therein while the other half is retained by the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao). The percentage the LGUs are getting cannot be diminished as stipulated in the proposed BBL,” explained Bacani.

Under the proposed measure, the current 70% share of the regional government will be increased to 75%.

Also represented in the deliberation were the Department of Finance (DOF); the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR); and the National Tax Research Center (NTRC).

Bacani also explained to the members of the Ways and Means committee the formula used for the annual block grant. “The amount is equal to 4% of the 60% of the BIR net collection three years detached from the fiscal year. When you compute that for 2016, that is roughly P27 billion — just a little over what the ARMM received for 2015.”

Members of the committee also discussed the income taxes filing of businesses operating in the Bangsamoro. “There are businesses operating in the Bangsamoro which have main offices outside and that is where they pay their taxes,” Ad Hoc committee chairman Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City mused.

“That is unfair for the Bangsamoro when you think about it. The business, manpower, and the income are all from the Bangsamoro. I propose that taxes should also be filed in the Bangsamoro so that they become subject to the 75-25 arrangement,” he continued.

Sulu Rep. Habib Tupay T. Loong agreed and added that “the kind of taxation being proposed is not only fair to the Bangsamoro but is also practical for the businesses operating therein.”

The committee also clarified some provisions of the bill to better reflect its intent such as the tax incentives to be given by the Bangsamoro are only applicable to taxes devolved to it; and that capital gains taxes both refer to sale of real properties and shares of stocks.

Some representatives expressed reservations to the amendments, saying they would continue their questioning at the plenary level which is expected to begin tomorrow. (PNA)