A measure exempting medical supplies and devices for COVID-19 prevention, control, and treatment from taxes has been filed at the House of Representatives.
Albay Representative Joey Salceda filed House Bill 9958, or the COVID-19 Supplies Tax Exemption Act, in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to Congress to provide tax relief to manufacturers of medical grade oxygen.
“This is an emergency, as well as a presidential request. So, we’ll take it up next week,” Salceda said.
Under the bill, the Secretary of Finance and the Secretary of Health shall jointly and periodically issue a list of critical or needed supplies for the prevention, control, and treatment of COVID-19, including healthcare equipment and supplies, whose manufacture, sale, or importation shall be exempt from import duties, taxes, and other fees. These shall include medical oxygen.
The Finance chief shall issue the rules and regulations for the implementation of the section, according to the proposed bill.
“We don’t have to legislate for each and every specific supply.”
“The provision intends to be general, so that we don’t have to legislate for each and every specific supply. The Secretary of Finance can simply invoke the rule as needed,” the veteran legislator said.
The Finance Secretary shall also be empowered, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health and Secretary of Trade and Industry, to suspend thresholds on required export sales for the availment of privileges under Title XIII of the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, for goods critically needed for the prevention, control, and treatment of COVID-19, or for specific registered business enterprises manufacturing such goods.
“This will allow PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority)-registered enterprises to sell their goods to the domestic market when we need it,” the seasoned lawmaker said. “Anyway, the Secretary of Finance may or may not choose to invoke the power, As long as it’s there for when we need it.”
He noted that the effectivity of the proposed law is until December 2022, which is “probably long enough to achieve herd immunity”.
“The bill will also allow us to procure syringes and other COVID-19 needs when we need it, tax free.”
“The bill will also allow us to procure syringes and other COVID-19 needs when we need it, tax-free,” Salceda said.
The chair of the House Ways and Means Committee assured that the panel would prioritize the bill’s passage.
During his pre-recorded Talk to the People, Duterte said the country really needs a lot of medical-grade oxygen supply, which he described as a “vital component” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also praised the oxygen manufacturers for continuing their production during these trying times.
“We really need many supplies of oxygen. If it really goes out of control, we would need all the oxygen that they can produce for the people,” Duterte said.
Duterte noted the importance of having sufficient medical-grade oxygen in the country, particularly now.