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Bill exempting from tax medical oxygen, Covid-19 supplies up for House plenary OK

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The House Committee on Ways and Means on Monday endorsed for plenary approval a substitute provisions to the bill exempting critical medical supplies, including medical oxygen, from any and all other taxes.

To expedite the process and given the urgency of the request of President Duterte, Albay Rep. and House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Salceda said that the committee worked on the substitute provisions and inserted them in a similar measure already approved by the tax panel earlier.

“We introduced the provisions to House Bill 8895 already approved by the committee, and principally authored by Rep. Ruffy Biazon. We inserted the provisions that would have fit the President’s request so that we could expedite the process,” Salceda said.

The substitute bill or the proposed Public Health Emergency Tax Exemption Act exempts the manufacture, importation, sale, and donation of critical medical supplies and essential goods during public health emergencies.

The bill mandates the Secretaries of Health and Finance to draw up the list of goods subject to exemption. The exemptions will require the declaration of a public health emergency by the President after December 2023, but will be in effect until then.

Critical medical products refer to vaccines and other necessary medicines to contain public health emergencies.

Essential goods refer to personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, gowns, masks, goggles, and face shields; surgical equipment and supplies; laboratory equipment and its reagents; medical equipment and devices; support and maintenance for laboratory and medical equipment, surgical equipment and supplies; medical supplies, tools, and consumables such as alcohols, sanitizers, tissue papers, thermometers, hand soaps, detergents, sodium hypochlorite, cleaning materials, povidone iodine; testing kits, and such other supplies or equipment as may be determined by the Department of Health (DOH) and other relevant government agencies.

The bill mandates the Secretary of Finance, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Health and the Secretary of Trade and Industry, may also suspend the threshold on required export sales for availment of privileges under Title XIII of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, to allow manufacturers to sell to the domestic market.

“I can see this getting to the floor during this session opening. We already emphasized to the Committee on Rules that this is a Presidential request, not to mention an urgent Covid-19 response,” Salceda added.

Image courtesy of Nonoy Lacza

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