By Beatriz Marie D. Cruz, Reporter

THE HOUSE of Representatives is set on prioritizing the approval of proposed changes to the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law as well as stock transaction taxes this year to streamline the country’s current tax system.

“President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s explicit instruction, as reiterated to me recently, is to do it (CREATE law amendments) without delay,” Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda, head of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a Viber chat.

“The aim is to solve VAT (value-added tax) issues once and for all, reduce the contact between government and investors to a necessary minimum, rollback the Fiscal Incentives Review Board, and make our enhanced deductions more competitive,” Mr. Salceda said.

Even as congressmen have yet to debate on the measure in the plenary, the CREATE MORE (CREATE to Maximize Opportunities for Reinvigorating the Economy) bill is seen by business groups as a means to streamline the current tax refund system and help attract more foreign investments.

Mr. Salceda also sought the passage of the proposed Capital Markets Efficiency Promotion Act.

“This will reduce the stock transaction tax from 0.6% to 0.1%, reduce the non-resident alien dividend tax to 10% from 25%, and institute a corporate pension scheme similar to the Roth IRA plans in the US,” he said.

The committee is also looking to boost non-tax revenues, particularly on reclamation, Mr. Salceda said.

“I am already in touch with my colleagues in the Committee on Defense and we will move to have reclamation projects as a sustainable source of funding for strategic defense, especially towards maritime defense,” he said.

Lawmakers are also looking forward to the passage of the proposed pension reform for military and uniformed personnel (MUP), which is currently undergoing deliberations in the Senate.

“We expect to be able to ratify the bill for Mr. Marcos to sign by the end of Quarter 1, 2024,” Mr. Salceda said.

If enacted into law, the MUP pension reform measure could reduce unfunded liabilities of the pension system to P3.4 trillion from P9.6 trillion.

The House Committee on Agriculture and Food, on the other hand, seeks to monitor food supply and prices throughout the year, according to its chairman, Quezon Rep. Wilfrido Mark M. Enverga.

“We will also ensure that the interventions for farmers are delivered in a timely manner to address our own production capacity,” Mr. Enverga said in a Viber message.

The agriculture panel will also prioritize the approval of a bill establishing the country’s coffee industry.

Pasig Rep. Roman T. Romulo, who heads the House Basic Education Committee, said it will prioritize the approval of the Expanded Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Act (E-GASTPE) to include kindergarten and elementary school students.

It will also pursue House approval of a bill seeking to make senior high school optional under the proposed Education Pathways Act. Both measures are still pending in the committee of Mr. Romulo.

In addition, the panel is pushing the proposed Expanded Career Progression for public school teachers, which is yet to undergo plenary debates. It also called for the passage of a bill, promoting mental wellness of students, which is pending in the Senate.

“We also intend to exercise our oversight functions on laws (e.g., inclusive education) that have passed and the reforms for functional literacy,” Mr. Romulo said via Viber.

Congress, currently on holiday break, will resume its regular sessions on Jan. 22.