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BIZ BUZZ: CGD’s ‘parting gift’ for RSA

/ 04:30 AM July 04, 2022

For the last six years, it’s been an open secret in business and political circles that Carlos Dominguez III (CGD) isn’t a big fan of Ramon Ang (RSA).

So much so that many of the former Finance Secretary’s policies—from which big ticket projects to approve or reject, which taxes to raise or cut, which policies in the energy sector to pursue, or which banks to merge—were often seen to be directly opposed to the moves of the San Miguel Corp. president and CEO.

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Well, last week, Dominguez scored one final point against Ang just before he relinquished his post as the country’s top economic manager.

Biz Buzz learned that, last month, the then Finance chief sent a 14-page memo to President Duterte outlining why the latter should veto House Bill 7575, which was meant to create the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Act.

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In it, Dominguez stressed that the proposed economic zone would cost the government at least P60 billion worth of tax leakages. He also went on to detail a host of other provisions of the bill which he deemed were too generous to San Miguel.

(Ironically, the bill that was vetoed by President Marcos had as its main sponsor the presidential sister, Imee Marcos.)

In response, Ang said that the proposed Bulacan economic zone would be a government-managed entity where any tax incentives that will be granted to locators will have to be reviewed and approved by the Department of Finance and the Fiscal Incentives Review Board.

The bill is totally aligned with Dominguez’ pet tax reform legislation, the CREATE (Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises) Law, he said, adding that the conglomerate’s privately funded Bulacan airport mega project will proceed even without the adjacent ecozone. It will be slightly less profitable, of course, and it will likely take a few more years for capital to be recovered without the ecozone.

In any case, one of President Marcos’ first official acts was to act favorably on one of Dominguez’ last official acts: to recommend a veto of the Bulacan ecozone bill.Talk about Dominguez giving Ang one last parting gift by twisting the knife in his side huh? The question is … what happens next? Abangan!

— Daxim L. Lucas

NFA leadership crisis

The plot thickens in the latest installment of the drama series stirred by the worsening rift between the employees and leader of the National Food Authority (NFA).

Last week, the NFA Employees Association (NFAEA), in a press briefing, asked President Marcos to axe the food agency’s administrator, Judy Carol Dansal, and sanction her for refusing to vacate her post even after her term has expired.

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NFA employees asserted that Dansal, being a coterminous appointee, was supposed to leave the NFA office at noon of June 30, the same time President Duterte wrapped up his six-year stint as the country’s chief executive.

NFAEA, led by its national president Maximo Torda, said Dansal’s counterparts at the Department of Agriculture (DA) tendered their courtesy resignation prior to Mr. Marcos’ assumption of his post.

Instead, Dansal committed “usurpation of authority” by noncompliance with the Department of Agriculture’s directive to properly turn over documents and records “to ensure continuous and effective delivery of services,” they alleged.

The NFA chief even issued a memorandum insisting on her continued stay on “the pretext of holdover capacity,” the group added.

In a separate briefing, Dansal claimed existing laws, particularly Republic Act No. 10149 governing government-owned and controlled corporations and Presidential Decree No. 4, allow her to stay beyond the end of the Duterte administration.

Likewise, in a recent memorandum, Dansal said she was prepared to turn over the office to her successor who will be appointed by Marcos Jr., concurrently sitting as Agriculture secretary.

She also said tapping the NFA deputy administrator as the agency’s caretaker was not an option as the DA directive states the next-in-rank official or employee may only do so if the noncareer official resigns or vacates his position before the duly appointed or designated official assumes.

Dansal said she was forced to hold a virtual briefing due to the misinformation circulated “by unscrupulous individuals who intend to cause confusion and create doubt as to the legality of the incumbent administrator to continue in office.”

With the leadership squabble at the house of NFA far from over, it seems the President urgently needs to resolve the issue by naming the next NFA head. And soon.

—Jordeene B. Lagare INQ

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