Banana tariff reduction pushed

THE FILIPINO Banana Growers and Exporters Association Inc. (PBGEA) has urged the national government to reduce banana tariffs and stop the implementation of the revenue agency’s memorandum circular on granting claims for value-added taxes (VAT).

PBGEA chair Carlito H. Ona said last Saturday during the induction ceremony of the new set of officials of the association at the Seda Abreeza Hotel that the national government should support their requests as the industry has already been suffering from high production costs.

The association observed that the production cost has gone up to $3.60-$3.85 per 13-kilogram box from around $2.20-$2.40.

“We need government help and support to reduce banana tariffs in the foreign markets. We need government help and support to stop the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) from implementing Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 54-2014,” Ona said.

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines Party-list Rep. Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza as well vowed to support the PBGEA.

“We now join you in your struggle to ensure fair tax treatment as BIR Commissioner Kim Henares tries to inflict her worse on the industry,” Mendoza said during the induction ceremony of PBGEA and Banana Export Industry Foundation Inc.

Mendoza added that “on the matter of the VAT refunds, my office shall seek to make it an issue for both the Department of Labor and workers to support. If VAT refunds are viewed as a private industry alone, the BIR will simply dismiss it as a matter that affects your profit margins.”

The PBGEA along with other business groups in the country like Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and Tax Management Association of the Philippines have rallied to stop the implementation of the revenue memorandum circular.

The business groups claimed, as cited in a national newspaper, that the policy will just dampen the competitiveness of the country.

But the BIR said in a statement that under the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC) of 1997, the BIR Commissioner has 120 days to resolve a refund claim. The taxpayer has 30 days to appeal the revenue agency’s decision after 120 days.

“Therefore, the NIRC provides that in the event the BIR does not act on the claim within 120 days, the taxpayer has the remedy to elevate the case to the Court of Tax Appeals. Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 54-2104 merely implements the said provision of the law,” cited the statement of BIR.

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