Monthly Archives: November 2016

Malaysian palm oil firm planning to invest $1 billion in Agusan del Sur

BusinessWorld Online
November 22, 2016

A MALAYSIAN COMPANY is planning to invest an initial amount of $1 billion to build plants to process palm oil in Agusan del Sur, according to an official from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

PEZA Director-General Charito B. Plaza said Alif Agro-Industrial, Inc. is looking for 128,000 hectares in Agusan del Sur which would be used as agricultural economic zones.

“$1 billion ang initial nila kasi (is their initial investment because) they’ll put up refinery plants to process the palm oil,” she told reporters on the sidelines of a Nov. 17 event.

Ms. Plaza said the land will be in ancestral domain areas, which is “good” for indigenous people who have been fighting for their rights.

“What we are doing now to accommodate the 128,000 hectares is we talked to the Department of Trade and Industry, and the local government and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. We are talking with the clans of these owners of these ancestral domains. They already signed a contract or a memorandum of understanding that these will be converted to special eco zones for the palm oil industry.”

Ms. Plaza noted the Philippines is currently importing around five million tons of cooking oil.

She said that they are currently studying the country’s imports with an emphasis on looking for possible crops that could be planted in the economic zones. This would contribute to minimizing the country’s overseas purchase of goods while boosting its export capacity.

Ms. Plaza, who took over the post after former PEZA Director-General Lilia B. De Lima retired earlier this year, is a former representative of Butuan.

PEZA is preparing to introduce changes in the way the government seeks investments, as it explores opening up economic zones for other sectors such as that of national defense.

Moreover, Ms. Plaza said PEZA is making a pivot towards attracting Middle Eastern investors that represent a lot of untapped potential.

This new focus, she said, is because PEZA has previously been occupied with seeking investments from Western and non-Muslim states, when in fact, the Middle East is “where the money is.” — Roy Stephen C. Canivel

BIR to expedite tax exemptions for socialized-housing land transfers

BusinessWorld Online
November 04, 2016

CERTIFICATES of Tax Exemption (CTEs) covering the transfer of land intended for use in government socialized housing projects will be prioritized by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), under an agreement signed with housing regulators.

The memorandum of agreement (MoA) was signed by the bureau, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the National Housing Authority (NHA).

BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay, Vice-President and HUDCC Chairperson Maria Leonor G. Robredo and NHA Acting General Manager Marcelino P. Escalada, Jr., signed the MoA on the availment of tax incentives for government socialized housing projects, the BIR said in a statement e-mailed to reporters.

The MoA is pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 7279, or the “Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992,” which mandates that the NHA be exempted from the payment of fees and charges of any kind, including income and real estate taxes.

The BIR, as the agency that enforces tax laws and collects all national internal revenue taxes, fees, and charges, will streamline and prioritize the processing and issuance of CTEs for the transfer of raw land intended for socialized housing projects to the NHA.

Sought for comment, the BIR said that this would entail the simplification and reduction of documentary requirements, and that Mr. Dulay would write a subsequent administrative issuance to implement the MoA.

The HUDCC, as the oversight and coordinating housing agency, will regularly submit to the BIR an updated list of government housing projects that are qualified for tax incentives.

The NHA, which is tasked to develop and implement government housing programs, will endorse to the BIR the CTE applications of housing contractors and assist in the evaluation, verification and certification of documentary requirements.

In a statement, HUDCC flagged scarce residential land supply vis-a-vis land demand as a great challenge in providing affordable housing to the poor.

“The challenge that we face now is setting in place a stronger land use policy that is efficiently administered through an integrated land and ISF information system,” Ms. Robredo said.

“This will be complemented by providing innovative housing solutions through the Key Shelter Agencies (KSAs) and Public-Private Partnerships to address opportunity gaps facing the homeless and low-income families.” — Lucia Edna P. de Guzman