Senator Nancy Binay reminded the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) that it had to follow the Tourism Act of 2009 which mandates it to fund tourism-related educational programs and courses.
According to Binay, the law requires CHED to fund the education and training of students by providing tourism-related programs that would focus on languages, history, cultural appreciation and management intended to improve the country’s competitiveness in the global market.
“I urge CHED to review RA 9593 and provide us with an audit of the programs it has so far funded using its share of our travel tax collections,” the legislator added.
CHED receives 40% share of the country’s travel tax collections as provided for in RA 9593, or the Tourism Act of 2009.
“We must ensure that they are complying with the law that governs the use of our travel tax, and that the money indeed, as the law requires, goes on to ” the lawmaker stressed.
The lady senator, who heads the Senate committee on tourism, made this call following CHED chairperson Patricia Licuanan’s remark during last week’s budget hearing in the Senate that their allocation of travel tax need not be used for tourism-related programs.
“Section 73 of RA 9593 states that CHED will retain its 40% share of the country’s travel tax collections, provided that tourism-related educational programs and courses are prioritized in its utilization,” she pointed out.
“Malaki ang maitutulong ng paggugol ng CHED sa parte nito sa travel tax sa mga tourism-related conferences, skills enhancement trainings, at pagsuporta ng mga kurso tulad na lamang ng Foreign Language, Tourism, Culinary, Tourism Management, Hotel and Restaurant Management, Travel and Tour Management, Marketing and Advertising at maging Urban Planning na ino-offer ng mga state universities and colleges ng bansa,” added Binay.
The Tourism Act of 2009 provides that 40% of the country’s total gross collections of travel tax goes to CHED’s Higher Education Development Fund (HEDF) while 50% and 10% of the collections will be given to the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), respectively.
“Kaya po ito ibinibigay sa CHED ay upang maging kabalikat natin ang ahensyang ito sa pagpapalago pa ng industriya ng turismo sa bansa. Nakapagtataka lang na kakaiba ang sagot ni Chairperson Licuanan noong nakaraang budget hearing sa Senado na hindi raw kinakailangang sa mga programang pang-turismo gugulin ang pondong ito, gayong patunay ang Tourism Act of 2009 na may obligasyon ang kaniyang ahensya na ilagak ang share nito sa travel tax sa mga proyekto at kurso na may koneksyon sa turismo,” she pointed out.
Travel tax is the biggest contributor to the HEDF, with other sources of funding being a 30% collection from the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) fees, and a 1% portion from the gross sales of the lotto operation of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
However, in the National Tax Research Center’s (NTRC) January-February 2016 tax research journal, it was noted that while SUCs offer tourism-related educational programs and courses, CHED has admitted that it could not directly identify which among its projects and programs are fall under this category.
Travel tax is a levy imposed by the national government on all Filipino citizens as well as permanent resident aliens, and non-immigrant aliens who have been in the country for more than a year and are traveling to other countries. While it was originally used as a means to limit unnecessary foreign travels and to conserve foreign exchange, its main purpose now is to generate funding for tourism-related programs and projects.