By A. Aguinaldo Camille

Published on on February 21, 2019

CONGRESS has ratified a measure extending the power of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to grant incentives to tourism enterprises for another 10 years.

The House of Representatives and the Senate have agreed to extend the body’s authority to Dec. 31, 2029. The House version of the bill had proposed an extension to just Dec. 31, 2026. The bill amends Republic Act No. 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009.

The original law and succeeding regulations gave TIEZA only until August 2019 to grant incentives. The incentives TIEZA grants tourism enterprises include a six-year income tax holiday, a five percent preferential tax on gross income, exemption from all taxes and customs duties of importation of capital equipment as well as of spare parts.

“Ratifying this bicameral conference committee report is another milestone in the tourism industry, albeit delayed. The primary purpose of the original law which we authored was to make sure that tourism becomes a primary engine of growth for our country because tourism means jobs,” Senator Richard J. Gordon said in his Feb. 6 speech as he presented the bicameral conference committee report for ratification.

It was revealed in Senate public hearings back in 2016 that TIEZA failed to grant incentives since the enactment of the Tourism Act due to the lack of a revenue regulation. The Bureau of Internal Revenue then issued a revenue regulation in 2016 but limited the period until 2019 due to the 10-year period prescribed in the original law. An extension period for the grant of incentives to tourism enterprises was then sought in Congress.

The new law also allows the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Tourism to operate indefinitely from 10 years previously. The committee consists of the chairmen of both chambers’ committees of tourism, ways and means, appropriations and of finance, among others.