THE SENATE will begin deliberations next week on the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE), which will immediately cut corporate income tax to 25%.

This as Congress is aiming to ratify the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II) today (Aug. 20).

The Bicameral Conference Committee still has around 10 to 12 provisions of Bayanihan II to reconcile, allowing it to finish by Thursday morning, Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara said.

“There’s a great possibility of finishing it (Wednesday evening) or (Thursday) morning at the latest,” Mr. Angara said during Wednesday’s session.

The Bayanihan II grants President Rodrigo R. Duterte special powers to realign items in the 2019 and 2020 national budget as well as provide much-needed assistance to various sectors hammered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Angara said one of the provisions being ironed out is the P10 billion in funds allocated to the Department of Tourism to help affected businesses. The House of Representatives, however, used the funding for the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority.

“We just want to be sure that the Senate version, especially on the Department of Tourism funding is intact,” Senate President Vicente C. Sotto told Mr. Angara. “You can inform the members of the House that when it comes to that we want to make sure that it would be for the good of the country.”

After the Bayanihan II, the chamber will turn its attention to the CREATE bill.

The Senate is supposed to have a briefing with the Finance department on Thursday, but Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon recommended it be postponed until Bayanihan II is ratified.

Senator Pia S. Cayetano, Ways and Means chairperson, agreed to postpone the scheduled briefing, which Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said will not affect Monday’s agenda that includes the interpellation period on the CREATE bill.

“But we’ll push through with the agenda for CREATE, so don’t worry,” he told Ms. Cayetano.

The Senate had committed to approve the bill within the month after failing to tackle the bill ahead of the June 5 adjournment.

The bill is the revised version of the proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA). The new version accelerates the reduction in CIT to 25%. This will further be reduced by 1 percentage point annually from 2023 until 2027. The CITIRA version of the bill proposed to gradually reduce the rate until it reaches 20% in 2029.

The new version will also extend the sunset period for enterprises enjoying incentives to four years from the 2-7 year period under CITIRA. — Charmaine A. Tadalan