Press Release
April 29, 2020

Pia: CITIRA to complement 'Balik-Probinsya' by fostering rural development, decongesting urban centers

Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Tuesday said that the proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA) could complement the 'Balik Probinsya' program by encouraging investments and generating employment in the countryside, while helping decongest urban centers.

The Senate ways and means panel head made the statement during a virtual press conference with House health committee chair Representative Angelina "Helen" Tan (Quezon, 4th District).

"People tend to forget that CITIRA is (about) rationalizing fiscal incentives. They tend to think that it's (just) about taking away incentives, when from the start, I kept on emphasizing that it's about granting incentives in the right places," explained Cayetano, the sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1357.

The proposed measure seeks to gradually lower the corporate income tax from 30% to 20% over the next ten years. The bill will also expand the authority of the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) in approving incentives, based on a Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP) that seeks to foster the development of new priority regions.

By granting incentives to industries geared towards rural development, the senator said CITIRA could very well complement the 'Balik Probinsya' - referring to the proposal of fellow Senator Christopher "Bong" Go to decongest the country's capital amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

"I totally agree that the areas within NCR and other metropolitan centers are too highly populated already and there are safer spaces in the provinces. But the reality is we also need job opportunities there [so people will be encouraged to move]. That's where the FIRB can incentivize businesses that would be put up (in the regions)," Cayetano pointed out.

Asked about possible amendments to the CITIRA bill in light of the economic fallout from COVID-19, she explained, "The incentivized programs should be reviewed at this point in time so that we can really prioritize [industries] that can generate employment and income."

Furthermore, she said CITIRA may also be used to support businesses investing in products and services that the country needs to fight COVID-19 and future pandemics.

"The structure envisioned in CITIRA is a structure allowing the FIRB to determine where we will be granting incentives. Since there is a new situation now, we can incentivize companies that are investing in products that would make us self-reliant [in this time of COVID-19], like mass-producing our own PPEs," Cayetano concluded.

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