Gordon refiles bill creating RICH in Central Luzon

Published July 30, 2020, 12:10 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Sen. Richard J. Gordon has refiled a bill seeking to create an investment and infrastructure hub in Central Luzon aimed at encouraging domestic and foreign direct investments (FDIs).

Senator Richard Gordon
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gordon refiled Senate Bill 1549 seeking to create Regional Investment and Infrastructure Coordinating Hub (RICH) in Central Luzon. This measure was filed and passed during the 17th Congress but was vetoed by President Duterte.

Noting that highly urbanized communities are extremely vulnerable to epidemics and other social problems, Gordon said the measure also seeks to decongest the National Capital Region.

Creation of the RICH in the region, according to Gordon, would also cushion the impact of COVID-19 to the country’s economy.

“The coronavirus pandemic has forced governments all over the world to freeze economic activity in order to control the spread of the virus and to prevent public health institutions from being overwhelmed,” Gordon said in the explanatory note of the measure.

“Although the full extent of the societal and economic trauma the coronavirus pandemic may cause is still unknown, the Philippine government must be proactive in adopting measures to mitigate its impact to our economy, and more importantly to the Filipino people,” he added.

Aside from decongesting Metro Manila and attracting investments, the creation of RICH is aimed at improving the quality of life by developing sustainable communities where residents live near their work and where institutions such as schools and universities, hospitals, and utilities, among others, are within close proximity.

The government must also take advantage of the strategic infrastructures in Central Luzon as international transportation centers connecting the expansive areas in Luzon attract FDIs, Gordon said.

“Infrastructure already existing in the country, such as the interconnecting highways; railways in Luzon; seaports in Subic, Mariveles, Aurora, and Manila; and airports in Subic, Clark, and Manila, when integrated and optimized effectively and efficiently, with vast idle lands nearby, when utilized gainfully by the Special Economic Zones shall accommodate the development of agriculture, industry, tourism, and other enterprises,” he explained.

The Central Luzon investment and infrastructure hub shall replace the Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council (SCADC) and could further strengthen the existing Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Clark Development Corp. (CDC), Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB), Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (APECO), Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

The measure seeks to provide incentives to enterprises that will register with the regional hub, such as a 100 percent income tax holiday for the first 10 years for entities that construct affordable housing with recreational facilities and schools.

After the 10-year period, the entity will be entitled to a five percent special tax on gross income in lieu of all national and local taxes.

Companies which would register in RICH may also avail themselves of tax and duty-free imports of raw materials and capital equipment; export tax exemptions; and Value-Added Tax zero-rating of local purchases, among others.

Entities constructing new or renovating existing infrastructure will be entitled to a tax credit worth 30 percent of the expenses, but not to exceed P3 billion.