THE Senate on Tuesday approved on third and final reading a bill offering tax exemptions to small-scale miners who sell their gold to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
Senate Bill No. 2127, or the Act to Strengthen the Country’s Gross International Reserves (GIR), was approved with 12 affirmative votes, zero negative votes, and no abstentions.
The measure seeks to amend sections 32 and 151 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) in order to provide income and excise tax exemptions to registered small-scale miners and accredited traders on their gold sales to the BSP.
The central bank purchases gold from small-scale miners in accordance with Republic No. 7076 or the People’s Small Scale Mining Act of 1991, aside from other sources.
In a statement on Tuesday, Senate ways and means committee chair Juan Edgardo M. Angara said the measure will enable the BSP to increase its gross international reserves, which he noted fell to their lowest level since 2011 at $74.8 billion in October.
“It would be far more prudent if we work towards deepening our international reserves, instead of focusing on collecting rather shallow revenues from gold sales. The first undoubtedly overshadows the latter — considering the social impact of returning to the formal sector the sale of gold from small-scale mining,” he said.
GIR totalled $78.46 billion in December, according to the BSP. The value of its gold holdings was recorded at $8.154 billion during the month.
Mr. Angara said the bill will also help small-scale miners receive a fair price for their gold by selling to the BSP, instead to the black market, where he said prices were below market levels.
Its counterpart measure, House Bill No. 3297, was approved on third and final reading on Oct. 8. — Camille A. Aguinaldo