BIR assures full support for FIST bill

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) assured lawmakers of its full support for the proposed measure allowing banks to dispose their bad loans and other non-performing assets (NPAs) through asset management companies.

BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay gave this assurance during a recent joint hearing of the Senate committees on banks, financial institutions and currencies and on ways and means, noting that the bill will enable banks to offer a steady flow of credit to businesses affected by the crisis.

Senate Bill (SB) No. 1594 or FIST aims to create specialized asset-managing firms that would acquire “bad loans and stagnant properties” from distressed financial institutions. The House of Representatives earlier passed its version of FIST—House Bill (HB) No. 6816—before the sine die adjournment of the Congress in June.

Dulay told senators he had formally manifested the BIR's support for the proposed Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) bill, which is one of the measures backed by the Department of Finance (DOF) as part of the government's economic recovery program.

“While we have stated also that the tax incentives may affect our revenues in terms of foregone revenues, on the balance, we believe that the objectives of the bill will far outweigh the effect on our revenue collections,” Dulay said.

In his letter to Senator Grace Poe, Dulay reiterated the BIR’s support for the FIST bill and offered the bureau’s assistance to the Senate by way of providing financial data relevant to the ongoing deliberations on the measure. 

“Finally, we are one with the DOF, Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and other government agencies (in) calling for the immediate passage of the FIST bill,” Dulay said in his letter. 

He also pointed out in his letter that the tax incentives provided under the FIST bill “should not be perpetual but time bound.” 

The BIR chief likewise cited the sufficient safety measures under the FIST bill, such as “the imposition of penalties and administrative sanctions in case any person violates any of its provisions.” 

In his letter, Dulay also assured Poe that once the FIST bill is passed into law, the BIR would swiftly act on the issuances necessary to effectively implement its tax provisions. 

During the hearing, Dulay also restated the BIR’s commitment to act quickly on the FIST Act.  

“Once the law is approved, we will see to it that the revenue regulations and the IRR (implementing rules and regulations) will be issued out, maybe within the next six months,” Dulay said during the hearing.