Proposed Boracay Island Development Authority gains more traction

Published December 7, 2020, 9:35 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The proposed Act creating the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA) moved another step toward enactment Monday after the House Committee on Ways and Means approved the bill’s revenue provision.

Boracay Island

It was only last November 11 when two other House panels–the Committees on Government Enterprises and Privatization and on Local Government–jointly approved the substitute bill for the BIDA Act.

The same measure was tackled by the Ways and Means panel in a virtual hearing Monday, particularly the bill’s Section 10 or the “Attributes of Boracay Island Special Economic and Tourism Zone.”

Before this, senior vice chairperson and Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita Suansing made a manifestation on how the BIDA Act was related to the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises bill, or CREATE.

“We are nearing the enactment of CREATE which this Committee shepherded and the chair (Albay Rep. Joey Salceda) strongly defended on the floor,” she said, referring to the Senate’s recent third reading approval of the tax measure.

“While it would be prudent to wait for CREATE when we are legislating incentives for eco zones, we will just be suggesting amendments in anticipation of its enactment since the BIDA is a priority measure,” Suansing explained.

The BIDA bill’s main author is presidential son, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world-famous Boracay in Aklan enjoyed a renaissance of sorts thanks to the efforts of President Duterte to address the worsening ecological problems of the island caused by pollution, poor waste disposal, and overcrowding.

So bad was the situation there that the President infamously described Boracay as a “cesspool” in 2018. What followed was a difficult but necessary closure of Boracay for its rehabilitation, which lasted six months.

The principal task of BIDA is to “ensure the gains realized from the rehabilitation is continued” as well as to “further develop the island,” the authors said.

The approved text in Section 10 reads: “A. The Boracay Island Special Economic and Tourism Zone shall have the attributes of a Special Ecozone as prescribed in Section 7, Section 8, Section 9, and Section 10 of Republic Act No. 791, or the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995.”

Moreover, it says that, “B. Registered enterprises of the Boracay Islands Special Economic and Tourism Zone may be entitled to existing pertinent fiscal and non-fiscal incentives granted under Executive Order No. 226, as amended otherwise known as the Omnibus Investments Code of 1987, and to such other fiscal incentives as may be provided by law.”

Under CREATE, the corporate income tax rate in the country will be reduced from 30 to 25 percent, and then by one percent increments until 2027. The proposed law is the second package of the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program.