Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Legarda Hails New Kasambahay Law

MANILA, January 24, 2013-Senator Loren Legarda hailed the signing into law of the Kasambahay Bill, noting that it is one of the foundations of inclusive growth that the Philippines as a nation aspires for.

“Republic Act No. 10361, or An Act Instituting Policies for the Protection and Welfare of Domestic Workers was signed into law on January 18. This is a major step in according decent working conditions, fair compensation, and sufficient benefits to our domestic workers,” said Legarda, co-sponsor of the measure.

The Senator earlier remarked that according to the ILO Report entitled Domestic Workers Across the World, a domestic worker in the Philippines worked 52 hours a week in 2010, the 7th longest work hours among the 39 countries with available data. The report also found that Filipino workers are paid less than half of the national average of incomes of the country’s total paid workers.

In a related move, Legarda, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, spearheaded last August the Senate’s concurrence in the ratification of ILO Convention 189, known as the Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers. The Philippines was only the second country to ratify the Convention.

“It is important that we treat our kasambahays as workers, not servants. This is a clear yardstick for equality in the country, and this heralds better things to come for other marginalized sectors,” Legarda concluded.

Crucial push for 2 bills adding relief to income earners & ushering era of clean & green vehicles

MANILA, January 24, 2013-Relief for taxpayers and relief from dirty air.

This was the gist of the twin legislative initiatives launched this week by Sen. Ralph G. Recto, hoping that the two proposed measures would get enough numbers to pass before election break sets in.

Recto’s Senate Bill (SB) 2856 or the Alternative Fuel Vehicles Incentives Act (AFVI) breezed through the crucial second reading Tuesday night, which if enacted, would usher in the era of cheap e- vehicles that puke on gas and don’t pollute the air.

The senator said the AFVI would lessen dependence on oil and promote use of alternative fuels such electricity to power vehicles.

“The bill promotes clean energy, clean air, green jobs, reduce prices of e-vehicles and also reduce import cost through tax incentives,” Recto said.

The AFVI bill rolls out tax incentives to people or groups, which will import, convert, manufacture or assemble the pioneering fleet of electric vehicles in the country, including hybrid and other motor vehicles using alternative fuel.

AFVI “converts” will be exempt from paying excise taxes and VAT for nine years to bring down the cost of importing and converting E-vehicles and their hybrid types, which should result to lower sticker price or dealer's price for buyers.

Recto, meanwhile, said his Senate Bill (SB) 2855 or the “Additional Benefit to Families Act” should put more cash in the take-home envelopes of income earners by expanding the number of qualified dependents to include parents and disabled persons.

“The bill strengthens the Filipino tradition of taking care of parents and person with disability (PWD),” he said.

The bill, which was formally sponsored for approval on the floor Tuesday, also shatters the cap on the number of child dependents.  

Recto said it is cheaper allowing families take care of their aging members and PWDs through tax relief instead of passing the buck to government.

He said the measure likewise corrects the virtual discrimination against a fifth or a sixth child, who under the tax code are not “tax deductibles” as qualified dependents.
At present, a maximum of only four qualified dependents may be claimed by taxpayers as additional exemption at P25,000 per capita. This means that a fifth or sixth child is not anymore tax deductible.

“We find support from economists that setting a limitation on the number of dependents has no bearing on the decision of couples to beget children,” Recto stressed.

The senator said the two measures have better chances of passing both chambers for its non-controversial features.
“The Senate is offering relief to our taxpayers and also relief from dirty air through affordable e-vehicles. After a divisive vote on sin tax and RH, I hope my colleagues will get onboard to support the twin measures,” he said.
The Senate has until the first week of February to put to bed some priority measures before Congress takes a break for the May mid-term polls. 

Senate ratifies bicam report on international carriers and shippers tax

MANILA, January 23, 2013-The Senate on Wednesday ratified the bicameral conference committee report removing the taxes currently being imposed by the Philippine government – the only country imposing such taxes – on international carriers and shippers.

Under the measure, the 2.5 percent Gross Philippine Billings Tax (GPBT) (GPBT) for carriage of persons and their excess baggage that international carriers and shippers are mandated to pay under the current tax code will be waived provided that the home country of these foreign carriers will agree to give a similar tax exemption to Philippine carriers.

Further, the 3 percent common carriers’ tax (CCT) insofar as it concerns the revenues on the passengers and their excess baggage would not be applied.

“We hope to spur capacity growth of the passengers’ traffic in our country both in international air transport and sea transport. We are targeting 10 million arrivals by 2016. To be able to achieve this goal, we need available capacity of 15 millions seats, but, currently, we only have 6 millions seats. Therefore, we need nine million seats more. We hope that this bill will be catalyst for capacity growth,” stressed Drilon.

“The removal of these taxes will improve the present situation where our tax policies seem to directly contravene our tourism goals,” said Drilon earlier, adding that the bill, once become a law, will result in increased tourist arrival and lower and more affordable fares.

“The Department of Tourism estimates that the increase in tourist arrivals will generate P455 billion in 2016 and will provide six million jobs,” said Drilon. He noted that, with passage of the bill, international arrival is expected to increase to 5.55 million in 2013, 6.75 million in 2014, 8.126 million in 2015 and 10 million in 2016.

He added that the enactment of this measure will translate to lower traveling costs for overseas Filipino workers who will be enjoying lower fares to the country. It will also lower business costs for domestic carriers with foreign operations as soon as the tax exemptions on their gross billings are reciprocated by other countries, ended Drilon.

Senate Bill 3343 – which was certified urgent by the President – was passed on third and final reading in the Senate last December 19 with 16 affirmative votes, zero negative vote.

“The measure will be effective by the middle of February. We will have it ratified by both Chambers this week. Next week, the enrolled copy will be endorsed to the President for signing. After signing, it will take effective 15 days from the day of publication,” ended Drilon.


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