Tax perks under CREATE should only be given to firms with safe, pro-workers spaces -- Hontiveros

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday said tax perks under the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) should only be given to companies with “safe and pro-worker” spaces.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Hontiveros said Congress should strive to feature a “pro-worker” provision in the bill to ensure that it “will go a long way in addressing major concerns of Filipino workers, such as unsafe working conditions, inequitable pay, and other abuses and injustices.

“CREATE is a chance at a new social contract. Hindi na pwede ang dating gawi na ang mga manggagawa ay nagtitiis sa kakarampot na sahod, kulang na benepisyo, at iba pang labor injustices, (Workers should not be be getting so little pay, lack benefits, and suffer from labor injustices),” Hontiveros said.

President Duterte had earlier certified the CREATE bill, formerly the proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA) or TRAIN 2, as urgent. The measure primarily seeks to reduce corporate income taxes and pushes for equitable incentives for industries nationwide.

It seeks to lower the corporate income tax from 30 percent to 25 percent by 2024, and much lower by 2029 to make the Philippines regionally competitive.

During the interpellation on the bill on Tuesday night, Hontiveros urged the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, chaired by Sen. Pia Cayetano, to include a provision requiring business and entities seeking access to lower tax rates and incentives to first secure a “seal of good housekeeping” from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) first.

The seal, she said, will serve as certification that the company complied with a package of good practices and standards meant to protect workers’ rights and welfare.

Hontiveros said that in order to avail of the seal and qualify for tax incentives, businesses should prove that they comply with workplace health and safety requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Law.

She said companies should also be required to have an updated payment of Social Security System (SSS), Pag-ibig, and PhilHealth contributions for their workers.

Firms should also show that they pay their workers’ salary in accordance with regional minimum wages issued by the government, the senator said.

“This will help us fix these common labor issues, such as the failure of many businesses to remit the SSS, Pag-ibig, or PhilHealth contributions of their employees, and the continued practice of many employers to pay their workers way below the regional minimum wage standards,” Hontiveros said.

“Big businesses should not be the only ones to benefit from the provisions of the CREATE bill.  Dapat unang makinabang ang mga manggagawa sa pamamagitan ng ligtas na trabaho, tamang sahod at benepisyo na naaayon sa batas (Workers should first benefit from a safe workplace, sufficient salary and benefits provided by law),” she said.