Lawmaker wants tax-free COVID-19 shots for private workers
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker is pushing to make COVID-19 vaccines for private sector employees and their dependents exempted from import duties, taxes, and other fees.
Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez has filed House Bill No. 8301 proposing for such, as he stressed the significance of providing “ease and affordability” in the procurement of the vaccines that would result in “more Filipinos protected against the virus.”
He emphasized, however, that private companies should ensure the shots will only be used for their workers and their dependents and not to be made for commercial distribution.
Rodriguez said that under Section 4(cc) of Republic Act No. 11491, or the Bayanihan to Recover As One, the exemption from import duties, taxes, and other fees of critical or needed medical equipment or supplies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic shall be determined by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Bureau of Customs (BOC).
But the lawmaker said the implementing rules and regulations released by BIR and BOC “have yet to include a clear exemption on the acquisition and purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.”
“Many companies from the private sector have expressed interest in acquiring and purchasing vaccines for their employees and their dependents to move towards higher productivity, employment and income for employees,” Rodriguez said in the bill.
“A tax exemption on the acquisition and purchase of the vaccines shall provide for ease and affordability in its procurement; resulting to more Filipinos protected against the virus,” he added.
Additionally, Rodriguez filed House Resolution No. 1453 urging the government to allow the private sector to acquire and purchase COVID-19 vaccines for their employees and their dependents.
“A proper vaccination program for the private sector will significantly aid the government in its pursuit to fight Covid-19 and its effects, and in regaining some semblance of normalcy with businesses bouncing back and ultimately placing the economy on its way to recovery,” Rodriguez said in the resolution.
So far, several business and industry leaders have already secured the purchase of 2.6 million doses of vaccines from AstraZeneca via a tripartite agreement along with the national government. Under this initiative of the business sector, half of the 2.6 million doses will be given to their employees while the other half will be donated to the government.
Many local government units have also negotiated with vaccine makers for their own supply. — with report from Zac Sarao, trainee
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