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BIZ BUZZ: Lifting the weight of giving

/ 05:10 AM July 30, 2021

Companies that have earlier committed millions of pesos in cash and kind as reward for Olympic champion Hidilyn Diaz were getting ready to shoulder the donor’s tax that would normally accompany that kind of generosity in the wake of the weightlifter’s historic win earlier this week.

Thankfully, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)—not usually a source of joy when it comes to pronouncements on tax issues—came to the unlikely rescue and issued a statement saying that the generosity of these donors would not be heavily taxed (literally and figuratively).

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On Thursday, the BIR reminded the public that, thanks to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law passed a couple of years ago, the donor’s tax rate now stands at only 6 percent for amounts in excess of P250,000.

Not that they couldn’t have afforded it, but this is, nonetheless, a relief for Diaz’s top-tier donors like the San Miguel Corp., the MVP group of companies and Megaworld Corp., all of whom would have faced the old tax rate of as much as 30 percent for values over P10 million.

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Note, of course, that tycoons Ramon Ang and Manuel V. Pangilinan had pledged P10 million each to any Olympic gold medal winner, while Megaworld Corp., now run by Tan scion, Kevin, awarded Diaz with a P14-million condominium unit at their flagship Eastwood City township in Quezon City.

The new tax rate means that San Miguel and the MVP Foundation would each have to part ways with an additional P600,000 for Diaz to receive the promised sum of P10 million. That’s a lot better than having to pay as much as P3 million more for their rewards (or worse, deduct that amount from the pledged amount).

Such is the relief among donors that Megaworld’s chief finance officer Francis Canuto went out of his way to thank the authorities for the TRAIN Law which, he explained, actually made it even easier for people to be generous toward parties who needed their generosity.

“This makes things easier and affordable for donors, and it encourages more businesses and even individuals to make donations for worthy causes,” he said. “Thanks to the efforts of Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez for making this happen.”

Who thought a new tax measure would be so welcome?

—Daxim L. Lucas

MVP’s wrath

As the Philippines cheered the Olympic gold medal of Hidilyn Diaz, executives at TV5 were facing the Olympic-sized wrath of their top boss, Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP).

The subject of his anger: Why wasn’t the historic moment aired live on free TV?

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Since the TV5 Group was the official broadcaster of the Tokyo Olympics, many Filipinos instead got the news on social media, save for those who decided to pay for additional subscription services on affiliate CignalTV.

Many will recall Diaz’s record-breaking clean and jerk victory followed the final and longest State of the Nation Address by President Duterte.

Instead of shifting programming to Diaz—who by then was a contender for the No. 1 spot—TV5 was airing analysis on the rambling, nearly three-hour speech.

Of course, companies pay dearly for the rights to air major sporting events such as the Tokyo Olympics.

One industry veteran said the costs were “prohibitive” and it’s no secret TV5 has been working for years to turn its business around. Thus, it was natural to charge a fee for live viewing and schedule a delayed telecast on free TV.

At the same time, it is not unusual for sports desks to quickly shift gears when major events are about to take place.

In fact, we’re told TV5 does this for certain National Basketball Association games since “eyeballs are guaranteed.”

That means basketball fans can watch the games in free, albeit non-HD TV, versus their paid counterparts in NBA TV Philippines.

Perhaps what miffed Pangilinan the most was the fact that he was an early believer of Diaz and a major sports fan and supporter.

The MVP Sports Foundation had supported Diaz’s financial and logistical training in the last two years, according to the group. She is among the 14 out of 19 Olympians supported by the foundation.

In any case, Pangilinan’s media group has moved to rectify the situation, at least for the Filipinos competing during the remainder of the Tokyo Olympics.

As of Thursday, viewers were able to watch golfer Juvic Pagunsan and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno live on Channel 5 or One Sports.

—Miguel R. Camus

Short selling breakthrough

It has been talked about for years, maybe even preceding the real estate investment trust (REIT), but it has never taken off.

We’re referring to short selling, which allows investors to sell stocks they do not own yet by borrowing the underlying securities, a practice already allowed under the Securities Regulation Code. Although the old framework for short selling had been approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission as early as 2009 (the same year that the enabling law for REIT was passed), support for this waned because of the Wall Street-epicentered global financial crisis that erupted at that time.

But now that REIT is up and running, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) is hopeful that short selling could debut on the local market this second semester of 2021.

At the PSE’s midyear market forum yesterday, PSE president Ramon Monzon said boosting market liquidity could only be achieved by enhancing products and services at the local bourse.

Monzon said short selling would be “key to attracting investors back to the market.” He said there were just about two or three items that regulators were ironing out before giving their approval.

Foreign investors have been dumping local equities for quite some time, bringing the ratio of foreign ownership to an all-time low. Hopefully, the much-awaited launch of short selling can be a positive catalyst.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
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TAGS: Biz Buzz, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Hidilyn Diaz, Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP), real estate investment trust (REIT), tax issues
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