‘Disabled’ industries seek huge tax breaks
MANILA, Philippines — A financially and emotionally hurt restaurant and retail sector sought government support in the form of huge tax incentives, commensurate with the capacity they would be allowed to operate during the implementation of the granular lockdown.
Eric Teng, president of Resto PH, said policymakers had never consulted their sector with over 250 restaurants, salons, spas and gyms, “and yet today we are going to be part the so-called 3Cs (closed, crowded, close-contact establishments), [which] means we will be further disabled.”
Although the guidelines of the granular lockdown were still being fine-tuned, Teng believed restaurants and similar businesses would be directly hit once the government again restricted the operation of 3Cs.
“Recently and for the longest time, we have been one of the more restricted industries during this COVID-19 emergency. And in several statements of the government, we have been termed as nonessential business entity … We find exception, we find it objectionable … Any declaration that we are nonessential is really very hurtful, very violent and very cruel,” Teng said in a Go Negosyo forum on Monday.
More than 2M affected
A 2019 figure from the Department of Trade and Industry showed that more than 2 million people were employed in the restaurant business alone.
Teng said their sector must be referred to instead as “disabled industries of COVID-19.”
And, “as a disabled industry, like any disabled person … who gets discounts, may we ask for support from the government. May we ask for tax breaks … tax incentives, social amelioration programs, business amelioration programs, which have not been offered to us at all,” he added.
Industry leaders advocated for business incentives by allowing them a bigger room to operate once majority of their employees were vaccinated.
Teng also said that if an establishment was only allowed 10-percent to 50-percent operational capacity, it should then not pay its taxes in full.
“When we’re only allowed 10-percent capacity, we should have a 90 percent discount [from] our taxes or any other [government] permits or fees. If we [operate at] 50 percent, we should also be supported halfway [by the government],” he said.
Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who were both present at the forum, promised to bring the matter up during the Inter-Agency Task Force meeting.
Former Vice President Jejomar Binay, for his part, on Monday maintained that the granular lockdown experiment in Metro Manila defied common sense.
Binay claimed that the national government merely intended to pass the burden of managing COVID-19 to local governments through such granular lockdowns.
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