House approves flexible ODA funding, tourist VAT refund measures on second reading

THE House of Representatives approved on second reading a bill seeking to leverage official development assistance (ODA) with other funding sources, as well as a separate measure proposing a value-added tax (VAT) refund for foreign visitors.

In plenary session on Wednesday, legislators gave viva voce approval to bills seeking to amend the Official Development Assistance Act of 1996, as well as the creation of a VAT refund mechanism for non-resident tourists.

House Bill No. 7311 proposes a “blended financing” framework that will allow the Philippines to combine ODA with financing from private partners.

The current ODA guidelines restrict bilateral partners, especially from European institutions, from contributing to ODA projects. Analysts said that the blended financing model will encourage more private funding in development projects.

House Bill No. 7292 allows non-resident tourists bringing out at least P3,000 worth of Philippine goods within 60 days to avail of VAT refunds.

The Secretary of Finance may adjust the threshold on the recommendation of the Tourism Secretary and the Internal Revenue commissioner, taking into account the administrative costs of processing refunds; inflation; and other market conditions. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz