INVESTMENT Promotion Agencies (IPAs) have been attending training sessions on the incentives on offer from the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law, Finance Assistant Secretary Juvy C. Danofrata, the head of the Secretariat of the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB), said.

She said in a statement Sunday that the FIRB Secretariat holds town meetings with IPAs and releases newsletters to raise awareness of such incentives and the investments being encouraged under the Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP). 

So far, the FIRB has held three town hall meetings with IPA staff, while three e-newsletters have been published, she said.

Ms. Danofrata said the training sessions stem from data generated by the Fiscal Incentives Registration and Monitoring (FIRM) program launched last year. FIRM allows companies to apply for tax incentives and monitor the status of their applications, and offers instructional videos to help IPAs and Registered Business Enterprises in using the platform.

“Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III instructed (the Secretariat) to hold a seminar as well with the heads of the various IPAs to provide them the information they need about the CREATE Law,” the statement said.

Only 45 FIRMS accounts have been registered as of Feb. 14, Ms. Danofrata said.

Separately, the FIRB said it approved tax incentives for seven government agencies and state-run corporations in 2021.

The tax incentives, valued at P4.28 billion, were granted to the University of the Philippines-Baguio (UP-Baguio), the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC), the Armed Forces of the Philippines Commissary and Exchange Service (AFPCES), the Small Business Corp. (SBCorp), the Government Service Insurance Corp. (GSIS), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Intercontinental Broadcasting Corp. (IBC-13), Ms. Danofrata said in a report to Mr. Dominguez.

“Our efforts to enhance the country’s fiscal incentives system lead to attracting large amounts of investments from foreign investors, which in turn, will generate more employment opportunities and promote economic stability,” Ms. Danofrata said.

The government is expecting more foreign investment after the passage of key economic measures, which include amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, the Public Service Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.

Last week, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is following up on investment leads from about 250 companies, adding later that these leads are expected to generate P450 billion in investment.

The FIRB, which oversees the granting of incentives for projects involving P1 billion worth of investment or above, approved tax incentives for five big-ticket projects in 2021, four of which were located outside of Metro Manila, and one located in Makati.

Ms. Danofrata said that the five projects will involve capital investment of P119.5 billion. The four outside the capital region include cement and mass housing projects in Iloilo, Davao, Batangas, and Pampanga. The proposed Makati City Subway was also approved for tax incentives. 

Three more such applications endorsed by the Board of Investments are awaiting review, while one application was rejected.

CREATE incentives include income tax holidays and enhanced deductions, on top of the gradual reduction of corporate income taxes. The tax reform program had sought to make the incentive regime more time-bound and performance-based. — Tobias Jared Tomas