By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has approved additional tax deductions to its registered enterprises for COVID-19 expenses even as it sought for the inclusion of more than P115 billion in business continuity package in the economic stimulus bills being proposed in Congress.
On additional tax deductions, PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza during an online press briefing that registered companies that are already availing of the 5 percent gross income earned (GIE) incentive are allowed to include COVID-19 expenses as deductible expense in determining their GIE.
PEZA identified those expenses as necessary to maintain their operations during the quarantine period. These include costs of providing temporary housing/accommodations to the employees; costs of providing for providing shuttle services for workers; port charges, costs for disinfection conducted for the work area/facility/premises; and COVID tests for the employees.
Plaza explained that one of the requirements is for their registered enterprises to conduct medical check-ups for their workers and a health clearance for all. As such, PEZA has already selected 4 providers for both rapid and PCR-based test kits to PEZA enterprises.
The rapid test provided by one of its providers costs P900 per person, including the test kit and laboratory results, and P2,300 for PCR-based test. Plaza also noted of increase in port charges and demurrage fees during the ECQ period.
PEZA has also implemented other reprieves to their locators including deferment of rental payments. In accordance with Memorandum Circular 2020-2, PEZA has deferred rental payment of locators in the four government-owned ecozones payable over 90-day period and is encouraging the privately-owned ecozones to follow the public ecozones.
Also deferred is the payment of utilities in the public zones and grace period for old and unpaid accounts. In addition, PEZA also grants deferred payment of processing fees.
For business continuity, PEZA has submitted its position paper to both the House and Senate a proposal to include over P115 billion as part of the economic stimulus package being prepared by the legislative branch.
Of this amount, PEZA has called for the allocation of P100 billion for the creation of public economic zones every region of the country. This fund allocation would be needed for the development of ecozones and public works infrastructures, provision for IT, logistics and transportation hubs, enhancement of utility and facilities to lower the cost of doing business in the country.
In addition, PEZA has urged Congress to allocate P13 billion for skills training and establishment of PEZA Institute and Knowledge Resource Centers in four public ecozones in partnership with state universities and colleges.
Plaza said the establishment of these centers will create a holistic approach to transform and enhance Filipino workers with multi-knowledge, multi-skills and world-class workers.
In addition, PEZA has called for P510 million fund for design and master planning of the ecozones per region.
“This is in line with the Balik Probinsya Program to entice investors, and the OFWs and unemployed Filipinos to go back to their provinces,” said Plaza.
Also PEZA has asked for P1.3 billion budget for the construction. housing facilities for workers inside the four public ecozones in Cavite, Baguio, Bataan and Mactan. In addition, the agency would like to construct a 100-bed capacity hospital in each of the four government owned ecozones with estimated cost of P800 million.