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Tax court approves PBA, BIR compromise deal

THE COURT of Tax Appeals (CTA) approved the compromise agreement between the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) over deficiencies from 1988 to 2000. In a 12-page decision dated Sept. 21, the court’s second division allowed the P48.5 million settlement reached by the professional league and tax agency. “Judicial Compromise Agreement is hereby approved and this Judgement Based on Compromise Agreement is hereby rendered in accordance therewith. The parties are hereby enjoined to faithfully comply with all the terms and conditions of the aforesaid Judicial Compromise Agreement,” the ruling read. “Accordingly, this case is now deemed closed and terminated,” it said. Under the compromise agreement, BIR accepted in July 2019 PBA’s payment offer of P48.5 million, the net amount of 40% of all deficiency percentage taxes and 100% of all withholding taxes less than the more than P23.2 million previously paid in 2002 and 2003. The BIR issued formal assessment notices and letters of demand in January 2003 for the years 1988-1998, 1999 and 2000 over tax deficiencies worth more than P532.7 million inclusive of interests and surcharges, according to the agreement. The PBA availed of the voluntary assessment and abatement program in 2002 and paid P3 million in advance. The association also offered a compromise settlement of 15% of basic deficiency taxes in 2003 and paid the amount of P20.2 million. The tax bureau denied the offer and  PBA then raised the case before the tax court. According to the court, the basic tax was P164.9 million and when the compromise rate is applied, the amount is P71.8 million. The judicial compromise agreement is reduced to P48.5 million with the previously paid amount of P23.2 million deducted. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Overseas workers seen to benefit from Qatar’s new minimum wage

THE QATAR government is implementing a new minimum basic salary for foreign workers, a policy that will benefit overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there. The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), in a statement on Sunday, said the Qatar government issued Law No. 17 series of 2020 setting the minimum wage of workers regardless of nationality to 1,000 Qatari Riyal (QR), equivalent to P13,325. “In addition to the minimum basic wage, employers are directed to ensure that workers are provided adequate food and accommodation, or allocation of additional 500 QR for accommodation and 200 QR for food, bringing the minimum total gross salary to 1,800 QR equivalent to $494 or Php 24,000.00,” the Labor department said. Workers already earning wages higher than the minimum will not be affected. Law No. 17 is part of the Qatar government’s labor reforms introduced to protect the rights of migrant workers. Based on the Human Rights Watch World Report 2020, over two million workers in Qatar are from overseas, which make up 95% of the country’s total labor force. As of 2018 Philippine data, there are about 119,600 Filipino workers in Qatar, representing 5.2% of the total OFWs. — Gillian M. Cortez 

Cayetano meets with Davao City Representative Duterte amid budget, speakership issues

TWO RANKING congressmen, considered as main figures of two separate camps, met over the weekend after the House of Representatives was hounded last week by a speakership row that was triggered by an alleged unfair distribution of funds among congressional districts under the proposed 2021 budget of the Public works department. House Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano met with House Deputy Speaker and presidential son Paolo Z. Duterte in Davao  City, where the latter is a representative for the 1st District. Photos of the visit were posted by ACT-CIS Partylist Rep. Eric G. Yap, an ally of both Mr. Duterte and Mr. Cayetano, on Instagram with a caption ‘Chillax night.’ Mr. Go, as of this writing, has yet to respond to a request for details of the meeting. Other lawmakers who joined them were Taguig City-Pateros 2nd District Rep. Lani L. Cayetano, wife of the speaker, and House Deputy Secretary-General Brian Yamsuan. Mr. Duterte is seen as a main backer in the speakership race. Under a term-sharing agreement brokered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in 2019, Mr. Cayetano will hold the House top post for half the three-year term up to October this year, then Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Q. Velasco will take over until the end of the 18th Congress in 2022. Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo A. Teves, Jr., a known ally of Mr. Velasco, questioned in a recent budget hearing the P8 billion and P11.8 billion worth of infrastructure funds allocated to Taguig City and Camarines Sur, respectively. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

House bill filed to institutionalize digitized system for gov’t aid, other financial distribution

A BILL has been filed in the House of Representatives seeking to establish a digital system for the distribution of government aid and other financial benefits such as tax refunds and pensions. House Bill No. 7714, titled the  Philippine Public Payment System Act, will create a “OneAccount” for all beneficiaries. “If we have already digitized the government payments, we can easily monitor red tape and corruption because we have digital records or paper trails. There will be no more repacking of cash subsidies,” said the bill’s author, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace S. Barbers. Under the measure, all Filipinos 18 years old and above who are registered under the new Philippine Identification System will be given a free OneAccount, or a government bank account with an ATM card. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

Solon pushes for law on prevention of teenage pregnancy

RIZAL 2 nd District Rep. Juan Fidel F. Nograles on Sunday reiterated his call to fast-track the measure that will create a national policy on teenage pregnancy prevention, citing a population report that about 40 to 50 Filipino children aged 10 to 14 years old give birth every week amid the community quarantine. House Bill No. 5516, the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act of 2019, aims to give teenagers comprehensive information that could help them prevent unintended pregnancies. The proposed law mandates the government to develop an evidence-based, medium-term National Program of Action for the Prevention of Teenage Pregnancies, which will serve as the national framework for inter-sectoral and inter-agency collaboration. It also proposed that adolescent parents who would continue their education will receive government support and incentives. The Commission on Population and Development earlier cited a study conducted by the University of the Philippines’ Population Institute projecting more than two million births in the country next year. Of these births, 200,000 or 11% would come from the age group of 20 years old and below. “The numbers are staggering, and Congress must do its part to help address this urgent issue,” Mr. Nograles said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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