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Congress’ nod on key bills expected

/ 12:11 AM February 01, 2017

The proposed comprehensive tax reform program and the easing of constitutional restrictions on foreign investors are expected to be swiftly approved by Congress following a meeting last Monday between President Duterte and Congress leaders, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said.

Pernia, who also heads state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority, told reporters that Monday’s Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) meeting had a “fruitful conversation between the executive and legislative branches of government.”

“Many things were agreed upon in terms of priorities; one is the comprehensive tax reform program. I think that was a way of softening opposition [to tax reform] of those in [the House of Representatives] and Senate. They were able to appreciate better the purpose and motivation of the comprehensive tax reform program,” Pernia said.

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The Neda chief said Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had committed to again brief the leaders of the Lower House as well as the Senate on the department’s proposed tax policy reform program.

Besides tax reform, Pernia said they also tackled “reforming the procurement law so that we can speed up construction of projects.”

Specifically, the Neda chief said they wanted the procurement law’s implementing rules and regulations to be modified and revised to allow changes that would cut the time spent in the procurement process. “There are some provisions that are unnecessary,” he said.

Also, the Ledac discussed issues concerning the coco levy fund, Pernia said. “We want to use it during this administration to improve agriculture, especially the coconut sector. And [so that] the farmers who really should be benefiting from them would be able to get some benefits out of coco levy funds.”

The Ledac likewise resolved to take up in Congress the planned easing of Constitutional restrictions in foreign investment, Pernia added.

As such, “very consequential pieces of legislation are going to be taken up” by Congress moving forward, the Neda chief said. —BEN O. DE VERA

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