Senator Bong Go is appealing to export-oriented local manufacturers of medical supplies and equipment to retain most of their outputs for use in the Philippines.
This is to address the scarcity of certain medical supplies and equipment given worldwide shortage amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global crisis.
Under present rules, registered manufacturers are required to export a certain minimum percentage of their daily outputs. If they meet this, they are entitled to various duties and tax exemptions and incentives.
“Dapat payagan natin na karamihan ng kanilang mga produkto ay pwedeng ibenta lang muna dito sa Pilipinas kasi nga kinukulang tayo sa mga medical supplies and equipment na gagamitin kontra COVID-19. Pero dapat gagawin natin ito na hindi naman mawawala ang mga insentibo na kasalukuyang binibigay ng gobyerno sa mga kumpanyang ito. Ang ibig pong sabihin nito, mas ma-e-encourage ang mga export-oriented medical supply companies na magbenta rito ng kanilang mga produkto kesa i-export,” Go explained.
“At the same time, entitled pa rin dapat sa fiscal incentives, alinsunod sa ating mga batas, ang mga produkto na ibebenta nila locally,” he added. The proposal applies to Filipino- and foreign-owned export-oriented medical supply companies.
This comes after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-IED) has also recommended the temporary lifting of these export requirements imposed under various laws. IATF is recommending that local sales of the outputs be deemed as export sales, hence allowing these companies to continue availing of duties and tax exemptions and other incentives.
“Sa pagluluwag na ito, mahihikayat natin ang mga kumpanyang ito na magtalaga ng hindi bababa sa 80% ng kanilang pang-araw araw na produksyon para sa local consumption,” Go explained.
He said that by encouraging these companies that manufacture much needed medical supplies and equipment amid the global health crisis, the country will be able to secure ample supply of these healthcare items.
“Tinatayang matugunan ang patuloy na lumalaking pangangailangan natin sa mga kritikal na mga gamit kontra sa pagkalat ng COVID-19 sa bansa,” Go added.
The Senator also emphasized that while donations of medical supplies and equipment from other countries are appreciated, the country cannot rely on outside sources all the time.
“Around the world, there is shortage of certain medical supplies and equipment, such as face masks and test kits, among others,” Go said.
“While we appreciate that some countries have given us those much needed items, we cannot rely on outside sources all the time. We need to enhance our own local production capability,” he added.
The proposal came after the enactment of Republic Act (RA) No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act” which authorizes the President, among others, as a temporary emergency measure, to liberalize the grant of incentives for the manufacture of critical or needed goods or products, including healthcare equipment and supplies.
Under normal circumstances, the grant to export enterprises of fiscal incentives is subject to conditions under Executive Order 226 or the “Omnibus Investments Code”, and Republic Act No. 7916 or the “Special Economic Zone Act”.
To avail of those incentives, establishments operating within ecozones are required to register with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and comply with requirements for registration under existing laws. These requirements include exporting at least 70% of total production for foreign-owned corporations; while at least 50% of the total production should be for export for Filipino-owned corporations.
With relaxed export requirements, these companies will remain entitled to the fiscal incentives while supplying at least 80% of their daily production for local or domestic use.
“Because of the recently enacted Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, we are giving the President certain powers in our bid to strengthen our various measures and increase our resources in defeating COVID-19,” Go said, adding that the country must be “responsive to the rapidly evolving situation” due to the COVID-19 emergency.
He also urged all Filipinos to work together and foster the bayanihan spirit to address the threats of the COVID-19 virus.
“In this time of national crisis, let us all contribute for the greater good. Both government and the private sector must work together and do what we can to address and respond to the growing threats of COVID-19,” Go said.
“Magbayanihan po tayo. Tulungan nating bumangon ang bawat Pilipino bilang isang nagkakaisang bansa. Together, we can heal as one,” he added.
The Senator, who also sits as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, earlier called for faster processing of test kits by the Food and Drug Administration and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
He also urged the government to make these test kits as well as other medical items, such as personal protection equipment, face masks, etc. to be available even to remote places all around the country./Stacy Ang