A joint Philippine congressional panel approved on Monday a bill that will reduce the rate of corporate income tax. MANILA: A joint Philippine congressional panel approved on Monday a bill that will reduce the rate of corporate income tax in a bid to attract more foreign investment and help the coronavirus-hit Southeast Asian economy recover. The bill, a key priority of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, will lower corporate income tax rate to 25% for big firms and 20% for small enterprises from 30%, the highest in Southeast Asia, by 2029. Congressman Joey Salceda, chairman of the bicameral committee, said the reconciliation of the upper house and lower house versions of the bill will remove investor uncertainty over the country's fiscal regime. "(It) will be like opening the floodgates to investment," Salceda said in a statement. The bill will also streamline incentives to investors to plug leakages worth over 300 billion pesos ($6.24 billion)resulting from tax holidays and other perks given to investors perpetually. Salceda said the tax reform measure will create 1.8 million jobs over the next ten years, and result in some 931 billion pesos in tax savings for businesses. The bill, Salceda said, will also allow duty-free importation of COVID-19 vaccines, which are expected to arrive this month. Despite being one of Asia's fastest-growing economies before the pandemic, the Philippines lags regional peers in attracting foreign direct investment because of foreign ownership restrictions, high power costs and poor infrastructure. Some lawmakers, including Duterte's allies, have proposed changes in the economic provisions of the Philippine constitution to liberalise investment rules. - Reuters
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