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Discounts granted to national athletes, coaches welcomed

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TEAM Philippines during the opening of the 30th Southeast Asian Games here in the country in December. (SEA Games 2019 media)

SEEING the value of recognizing the efforts of national athletes and coaches in bringing pride and honor to the country, the Bureau of International Revenue on May 27 issued implementing regulations that provide a 20% discount in the purchase of goods and services to the former, something local sports stakeholders welcomed with open arms.

Signed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on the recommendation of Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay, Revenue Regulations (R.R) No. 13-2020 spur further implementation of Republic Act (R.A.) 10699, the law expanding the coverage of incentives granted to national athletes and coaches.

Under R.R. 13-2020, qualified beneficiaries will be entitled to a 20% discount on goods and services, similar to those given to senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

In turn, “business establishments granting sales discounts to national athletes and coaches on their sale of goods and/or services shall be entitled to deduct the said sales discount from their gross income,” the recently released regulation reads.

Qualified beneficiaries are those who compete in international sports competitions which do not grant prize money and must be duly recognized and accredited by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), the Philippine Paralympic Committee and the National Sports Associations.

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The law provides discounts to national team members in the purchase of goods and services like food, medicine and sports equipment. It also grants deduction on transportation fares, room accommodations, restaurants, recreation centers, cinemas, and other amusement areas.

To ensure that such regulation is enjoyed fully by the beneficiaries, the chairman of the PSC is asked to issue a Philippine National Sports Team Identification Card and Booklet (PNSTM ID and Booklet) to the national athletes and coaches.

Benefits and privileges may be availed of by those who are qualified upon presentation of these PNSTM IDs and booklets to privately owned establishments.

The regulation will take effect 15 days after publication in the official gazette or any two nationally circulated newspapers.

The law imposes penalties of up to six years in jail and a fine of P200,000 on those caught in violation.

WELCOME DEVELOPMENT
As expected, local sports stakeholders welcome the development, looking at it as long overdue to be fully implemented.

“I am happy for our national athletes and coaches that the BIR has finally approved the implementation of this law. This will be an added incentive for our athletes and coaches who bring honor and pride to our country,” said PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez in an interview.

While the 20% discount for national team members was already in R.A. 10699, it was not being fully implemented, pushing athletes and officials to work hard for the strict implementation of such privilege, gaining headway in it by crafting pertinent guidelines in coordination with the BIR last year.

The release of the regulation comes at the most opportune of time as the PSC is set to slash the monthly allowance of athletes as a result of the budget cut the agency absorbed with the government making adjustments because of the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Well, of course, they should be very happy with this,” said Mr. Fernandez, believing that it could somehow cushion the impact of the cut in the monthly stipend of national team members.

He went on to say that the PSC remains committed to looking after the welfare of the athletes in these trying times.

For bemedalled triathlete and POC Athletes’ Commission officer Nikko Huelgas, the release of R.R. No. 13-2020 was a step in the right direction and about time since the proper implementation of the discount privilege has been a going concern among their ranks.

“I’m very happy to see the IRR (implementing rules and regulations) being acknowledged more and more by people from the top where they can greatly influence the [business] establishments in acknowledging this more,” said the two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medallist in a separate interview.

“Yes it (discount privilege) was [a concern] and until now. I understand that it takes time to implement such but with more awareness we can reach our goal. We will wait for the PSC to issue the booklets in addition to our new 2020 PSC IDs. It will make things easier. It’s a big stepping stone and I hope more support will come as the years go by,” he added.

And it is not only the athletes and officials who welcome it as seemingly businesses are open to the newly released regulation.

One of these is Fitspiration Philippines Corp., the company handling Gold’s Gym Philippines and UFC GYM Philippines.

“It’s a good idea. It doesn’t really have much effect on us because we even sponsor most of them. Hence if we were willing to give them our services for free then letting go of 20% is definitely something we support,” said Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit, CEO of Fitspiration. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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