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Tax incentives for local PPE manufacturers pushed in Senate

A bill seeking to boost the local production of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the Philippines has been filed in the Senate amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Bill No. 1708 or the proposed Healthcare Manufacturing and Pandemic Protection Act, authored by Senator Imee Marcos, aims to provide tax exemptions for local manufacturers of PPEs.

In a statement, the chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs stressed that through strengthening the local manufacturers' production capacity and achieving "PPE security," health workers and other frontliners would be better protected as the country continues its battle with COVID-19.

"At the onset of the pandemic, we were unable to procure supplies from China, Singapore, Japan, and Korea, themselves struggling against the virus. We could not bid against the US and Europe who were understandably paying top dollar for the same short supplies," Marcos said.

Aside from tax holidays, the bill also exempts local PPE manufacturers from import duties on raw materials and other fees collected by the Bureau of Customs and the Food and Drug Administration.

Though the lion's share of the output shall be dedicated for the use of the Department of Health and private local hospitals, export incentives shall still be retained, according to the senator.

"Waiving export requirements during a crisis and crediting output for local needs will allow a major industry like the garments industry to preserve hundreds of thousands of jobs and even to expand," she said.

Citing data from the Department of Trade and Industry, she said around 300,000 PPEs are locally produced in the Philippines per month.

In April, the government collaborated with the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines to produce at least 10,000 medical-grade PPE coveralls each day. —Dona Magsino/KBK, GMA News