THE Senate Ways and Means Committee is considering amending incentives under the proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA) to benefit industries deemed essential during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency.

“Definitely, I see the opportunity for the CITIRA to be used to incentivize industries that we need right now,” Senator Pilar Juliana S. Cayetano, who chairs the panel, said in a virtual briefing, Tuesday.

Ms. Cayetano said she is looking to provide incentives for industries that are sustainable and job-generating as well as those that engage in providing medical supplies, equipment and other critical goods.

She also said the CITIRA bill will complement the “Balik Probinsya” program, proposed by Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go. “For me, magagamit ko ‘yung structure envisioned by CITIRA to incentivize these (The CITIRA structure will facilitate the provision of incentives for provincial relocators).”

“If you ask me it could be one of the main incentivized programs of the government because I totally agree that areas of NCR (National Capital Region) and other metropolitan areas (are overpopulated).”

Ms. Cayetano said the amendments will require consultation with the Department of Finance and the National Economic and Development Authority.

“The programs should really be reviewed at this point, so that we can really incentivize those that would generate employment and income… we might have to go back to the drawing board.”

She said the reaction from the administration and her colleagues will determine whether the bill is declared a priority measure when session resumes on May 4.

The proposed measure will gradually lower the corporate income tax to 20% from the current 30% by 2029 and rationalize fiscal incentives. It was approved on third reading by the House of Representatives, but is awaiting second reading in the Senate.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has certified the bill as an urgent measure, which will allow the chamber to approve it on second- and third-reading on the same day.

CITIRA is among the tax reform measures still pending in Congress, along with the proposal to simplify the tax structure for financial instruments, and provide a uniform framework for real property valuation.

The government has so far enacted a measure cutting personal income taxes and increasing or adding levies on several goods and services and another one granting estate tax amnesty and amnesty on delinquent accounts.

It has also passed laws separately increasing the excise tax on alcohol products and conventional and electronic cigarettes. — Charmaine A. Tadalan