House approves Trabaho bill on 2nd reading

Mara Cepeda
Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself is present at the plenary to ensure the approval of the tax reform measure

TAX REFORM. The House of Representatives approves the Trabaho bill on 2nd reading on September 4, 2018. File photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers approved on 2nd reading the second batch of tax reforms being proposed by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and Higher Quality Opportunities (Trabaho) bill.

The House of Representatives gave its approval to House Bill (HB) No. 8083 on Tuesday, September 4, with a vote of ayes and nays. (READ: Things you need to know about Trabaho bill)

No less than Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who has placed the bill on her legislative agenda, was present at the plenary to ensure the 2nd reading approval would push through.

The Trabaho bill aims to gradually cut corporate income taxes starting 2021, eventually bringing down the current 30% to 20% by 2029. (READ: EXPLAINER: Why the government is pushing for 2nd TRAIN package)

The measure also seeks to rationalize fiscal incentives or remove certain perks. The Trabaho bill retains the current incentives for two years, for investors to have enough time to adjust to the new tax scheme. Perks will now also be targeted, time-bound, and transparent.

The Department of Finance estimated that the government lost some P178 billion in potential revenue in 2016 due to redundant tax incentives. 

The Philippine Ecozones Association, however, previously warned that the second batch of tax reforms would have a negative impact on foreign direct investments in economic zones across the country.

This would mean job losses, lower production output and exports, capital flight, and other setbacks that would offset the gains in ecozones.

But Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua said job losses would only be “very minimal.” He said that while some jobs may be cut from some sectors, employment in other sectors would experience growth due to lower corporate income taxes.

With its 2nd reading approval, the Trabaho bill now only needs to be approved on 3rd and final reading at the House before it can be transmitted to the Senate, where it must go through another 3 readings. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.