House OKs bill on housing rental subsidy for informal settlers

Robie de Guzman   •   March 25, 2021   •   541

 

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Thursday approved on third and final reading a bill seeking the creation of a housing rental subsidy program for informal settler families (ISF).

Voting 189-6-0, the lower house passed House Bill 8736 which seeks to promote a just, equitable, and inclusive urban development through programs providing adequate social services, broader housing options, livelihood, employment, as well as an improved quality of life for Filipinos.

The measure proposes to enable ISFs to access the formal housing market and facilitate the temporary relocation of families who were displaced due to natural and man-made disasters.

The bill stipulates that eligible ISFs in Metro Manila would receive a flat rental subsidy rate of P3,500.

Meanwhile, the rates for those living in other regions would be determined by the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), taking into consideration the prevailing minimum wage and rental rates per region, but not exceeding P3,500.

The bill mandates that the rental subsidy shall not exceed the actual rent, provided that such subsidy may be reviewed or revised by the DHSUD and NEDA not more than once every two years to conform to prevailing economic conditions.

The rental subsidy shall be granted to eligible beneficiaries until the date of completion of or upon their actual transfer to the permanent housing project intended for them.

Program applicants shall be required to vacate the informal settlement area they are currently occupying and relocate to a safer area in order to receive the rental subsidy.

Beneficiaries shall be prohibited from moving back to the area where they were originally living unless permitted by proper government authorities and obliges them to pay that portion of the rent in excess of the subsidy.

 

Makabayan Bloc seeks probe into proliferation of smuggled vegetables in local markets

Robie de Guzman   •   September 30, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – The House Makabayan bloc is pushing for an investigation into the alleged proliferation of smuggled vegetables in some markets across the country.

In filing House Resolution No. 2263, the bloc urged the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to launch an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on reports that smuggled carrots and other vegetables from overseas have flooded major markets in the country since August of this year.

The bloc noted that the League of Association at the La Trinidad Trading Areas has complained that four container vans full of alleged smuggled carrots are delivered to the Carbon Market in Cebu City every week and being sold at P50 per kilo in various markets.

“The said contraband carrots are believed to be coming from China and are allegedly injected with chemicals to prolong the shelf life,” the resolution read.

Some ‘hot cabbages’ were also reportedly being distributed in Divisoria Market in Manila at P70 per kilo which is much lower than the prices of Benguet cabbage pegged at P115 to P125 a kilo.

The bloc also noted reports about small warehouses near Divisoria where imported vegetables are allegedly stored and are released in the market when Benguet vegetable prices are high.

“Vegetable disposers at the La Trinidad Post in Benguet said that orders have drastically dropped due to the proliferation of smuggled carrots in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Cagayan de Oro, among other cities,” it said.

“From the previous 100 sacks of carrots a day, vegetable disposers said they are only able to dispose of at least 30 sacks of carrots a day,” it added.

The Department of Agriculture earlier said it is investigating reports on smuggled vegetables in local markets and warned the public against buying these items that may contain possible pesticide residue and may not be fit for consumption.

House approves bill imposing taxes on digital transactions

Marje Pelayo   •   September 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers in the House of Representatives (HOR) approved on third and final reading a proposed measure imposing a 12% value-added tax (VAT) on all digital transactions in the country.

With 167 ‘yes’, six ‘no’ and one abstention, the lawmakers approved House Bill 7425 which seeks to amend Section 105 of the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC).

The proposed measure hopes to impose taxes on digital service providers that operate through online platforms to generate new sources of funds for the country’s COVID-19 response.

The proposed bill seeks to clarify the imposition of VAT on online advertisement services, digital services in exchange for a regular subscription fee, and supply of other electronic and online services that can be delivered through the Internet.

One of the principal authors of the bill, Albay Representative Joey Salceda, stressed that the bill seeks to require foreign corporations selling digital services to pay for and impose VAT on their services.

The proposed bill specifically refers to digital services as mobile applications, video games and online games, and webcasts and webinars as well as online licensing or software, updates and add-ons, website filters and firewalls.

It also addresses digital content such as music, videos, graphics and the likes; search engine services; social networks; online training as well as database and hosting.

“We have now clarified that digital services and the goods and services traded through digital service providers should generally be subject to VAT. This is just a matter of common tax sense,” Salceda said.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker guaranteed exemptions for small businesses or those having sales below P3 million and a sole proprietor with a net income of P250,000 and lower.

“So, the small Facebook online seller will not be taxed. I guarantee you,” he said.

Books and other printed materials being sold online will also be exempted from VAT in the proposed bill.

6.5 million housing units needed for informal settlers nationwide — DHSUD

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — At least 6.5 million housing for informal settlers are needed nationwide, according to the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD).

DHSUD Secretary Eduardo Del Rosario reported that the department already accomplished 1.07 million housing which is 89% out of the 1.2 million housing target for 2022.

Del Rosario said they are on track with the mission. However, he lamented that it is still far from the 6.5 million target units.

“Concerning the 6.5 million housing needed nationwide, medyo mababa ito (it is low) because that is only 20% of the total requirement,” he said.

Del Rosario said that from 2017 to 2021, the department’s budget is only ranging from about P4 billion to P5 billion, or only 10% of the recommended budget for their housing projects.

The official also added that the department needs P50 billion in order to address housing challenges in the country.

“Housing is capital intensive. Kailangan natin ng pondo (we need funds). We have been saying that we need P50 billion a year para makapagpagawa tayo and mai-transfer natin ang mga informal settler families to safer grounds (to build and transfer informal setter families to safer grounds),” he said.

Meanwhile, for the construction projects during the pandemic, Del Rosario reported that production decreased by 28% in 2020. However, he said the production this year has been improving. AAC

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