WEST CEBU ESTATE is home to some of the world’s leading maritime companies such as Australia’s Austal Philippines. Austal Philippines recently delivered the largest, high-speed Catamaran ever constructed in its 35-year history — the Express 5. — COMPANY HANDOUT

A BILL supporting the shipyard industry has been filed at the House of Representatives, featuring a program of incentives for companies that undertake shipbuilding and repair operations here.

“The country is widely regarded as the fourth-biggest shipbuilding nation,” Cagayan De Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez said in House Bill No. 8374. “Despite this, there is still tremendous potential for the ship building industry to grow.”

The measure would authorize value-added tax (VAT) exemptions on the purchase or import of capital equipment, spare parts, and raw materials such as steel plate for shipbuilding companies registered with the Maritime Industry Authority.

Income tax breaks will be available for shipbuilders and repair companies that export 70% of their production. The eligibility criteria include four years as a registered entity and a workforce of at least 4,000. The company must also work on vessels of at least 700 gross tons.

Shipbuilders and repair companies with a mainly domestic market are required to have been registered for four years, employ at least 1,000 workers, and do work on vessels of at least 250 gross tons.

The bill also authorize an income tax deduction of 50% of its wage bill for the first five years.

“It is important that the Philippine maritime industry also develop and enhance the quality of its capacity and capability for mass water transportation as well as for maritime and naval (products),” Mr. Rodriguez said.

The Maritime Page website puts the number of registered Philippine shipyards at 118 in 2021, with 17 classified as medium-scale. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz