By Ben Rosario
Investors in the country’s freeports will retain the current incentives offered by government for export-related products and services in the wake of the Duterte administration’s bid for the passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law or TRAIN2, a sequel of the much-criticized TRAIN 1.
However, former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo downplayed the value of fiscal incentives to investors, stressing that ease of doing business and infrastructure matter more to them.
Arroyo said Finance Undersecretary Kendrick Chua and Quirino Rep. Dax Cua, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, gave assurance that freeports will be least affected by the passage of TRAIN 2 that seeks to amend the Tax Incentives and Transparency Laws; current corporate income tax system and other fiscal incentive laws.
Arroyo led a tour of San Simon, Pampanga to validate her claim that investors will pour in money in various business ventures if they are satisfied with the available infrastructure and welcome business environment.
She noted that many remain concerned about the impact on investments of government’s bid to rationalize fiscal incentives.
“I know we recognize the many concerns of the freeports so they cannot afford to lose their fiscal incentives,” the House leader said.
“So yesterday we were happy to learn from Karl Chua and Dax Cua that they are not losing their export-related incentives because the government realizes that there are businesses that need fiscal incentives,” she stated.
Nevertheless, Arroyo stated that there are also industries that come in not because they are attracted to the available incentives “but because of infrastructure and the ease of doing business.”
She cited the development of San Simon that developed into a bustling industrial town after making available the twin investment attractions.
The local government unit now under Mayor Leonora Wong was able to guarantee a good business climate that is supported by the locality.
It was during her time as president that government built the national road leading to San Simon.
“It ws so quiet, it was like a ghost town and then of course it was really the infrastructure,” admitted wong.
Wong said the municipal government “made sure” everything was easy for the investors by making sure that transactions and processing of business permits, construction and licenses are automated and has been streamlined.