LOW-COST housing projects given tax breaks must now place 15% of their project area under socialized housing, lower than the earlier 20% requirement.

The Board of Investments (BoI) in memorandum circular 2020-012 signed on Oct. 15 revised several requirements in its investment priorities plan, under which registered enterprises are given tax breaks. BoI said that it made these changes amid economic disruptions during the pandemic.

All low-cost housing must fulfill the socialized housing requirement covering 15% of the project area or of the total BoI-registered project cost for subdivision housing. They must cover 15% of the total floor area of saleable housing of residential condominium projects.

Developers that don’t comply with the 15% requirement may be denied for succeeding projects.

They may develop new settlements directly or through joint ventures with local government, the social housing finance corporation, or with developers or non-government organizations accredited  by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, not the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board.

Amendments to Republic Act No. 7279, or the Urban Development and Housing Act, requires at least 15% of total subdivision area or project cost be made available to underprivileged families, reducing the requirement from the previous 20%. At least five percent of condominium area or project cost must do the same.

In addition, wastewater treatment projects now also qualify under the incentives program. Previously, only new bulk water treatment and supply qualified for registration. The wastewater enterprise must submit pollution control certification and wastewater discharge permits before commercial operations.

Other infrastructure and logistics projects that could register include airports and seaports, transport, natural gas storage, oil and gas pipelines, and tollways, among others.

Relocation of facilities from other countries to the Philippines or to less congested areas may utilize used capital equipment, revising an earlier rule requiring the use of brand new equipment, under the condition that foreign national employment is subject to existing labor laws.

Used capital equipment is allowed as long as they are up-to-date, market appropriate, and comply with environmental standards.

“Relocation of facilities from other countries into the Philippines or relocation within the Philippines from congested urban areas into the countryside and less congested areas shall be highly encouraged,” the memorandum said.

The BoI also added the definition for the official commercial start of biomass projects, which is the date the plant starts selling power to the grid and can attain its committed export capacity. This helps enterprises identify requirements that must be fulfilled prior to the start of commercial operations. — Jenina P. Ibañez