‘Amending VAT law will make local agri products competitive in AEC’

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/4 April) – Making all agriculture-related inputs and services exempt from the value-added tax will make local agricultural products competitive in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which starts next year, the Bukidnon Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (BKCCII) said.

In a report given to members last week, BKCCII president Roderico Bioco said the chamber continues to push for preferential tax policy which he considered important for local competitiveness.

“In most AEC members, unlike the Philippines, all inputs and services for agricultural production are VAT exempt, including fuel, transportation, and toll services (toll milling, toll breeding, etc.),” Bioco’s report said.

He added the move would make their (other AEC members) agricultural products highly competitive when sold in the Philippines.

Bioco said that while the proposed tax amendment would be difficult to implement, it is “a test of resolve for our government to truly help our industries compete in a new economic environment.”

He cited that the chamber is working with Senators Juan Edgardo Angara and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV on the proposal.

He said the chamber has conducted an awareness drive on the Asean Free Trade Agreement and is now leading programs to mitigate the “ill effects of AEC”.

He said there are creative government financing programs that should be offered in Bukidnon such as the Department of Trade and Industry’s Shared Service Facilities, the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Guarantee Fund Pool as well as other programs of the Departments of Agrarian Reform and Science and Technology.

He noted that while these programs “ironically have very low utilization in most parts of the country”, Bukidnon was able to harness the funds through close working relationship between the chamber and government agencies. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)