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Agriculture chief endorses passage of CITIRA
by Rommel Hallares - Wednesday, 11 December 2019, 04:59 PM
(The Philippine Star) - December 7, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s agriculture chief has endorsed the passage of the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (CITIRA), saying the measure will promote the development of agribusiness enterprises especially in the rural areas.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he fully supports the legislation of House Bill 4157, also known as the CITIRA bill.

He said the bill’s passage would result in the setting up of agribusiness activities outside of Metro Manila and economic zones, which should create more off-farm jobs and help reduce poverty incidence.

“More agribusiness companies operating outside Metro Manila will also lead to the formation of more ‘small brother-big brother’ arrangements between smallholder farmers and agri-industrial firms,” Dar said.

The CITIRA bill, the government’s second tax reform package, is now awaiting deliberations in the Senate.

On one hand, the bill will reduce corporate income tax rate to 20 percent by 2029 from the current 30 percent.

The measure will rationalize fiscal incentives granted to firms operating in economic zones.

“Lowering the corporate income tax under CITIRA will help attract more Filipino youth into agribusiness over the long term. So I also see CITIRA helping create an ecosystem for agripreneurship and take root in the rural areas,” Dar said.

Dar cited one of the CITIRA bill’s key provisions, which is the extension of tax breaks for agribusiness firms outside of Metro Manila to 10 years.

Under the measure, economic zone firms which opt to locate outside of the nation’s capital will receive a longer schedule for their incentives. This is part and parcel of the administration’s push for economic growth and job creation in the regions.

“There is so much room for pioneering activities in agriculture and agribusiness, and granting incentives to attract investors in the rural areas,” Dar said.

He called on small farmers and fisherfolks to form cooperatives and food manufacturing enterprises to engage in value-adding.

Dar also urged the youth to engage in agriculture, fisheries, food processing and agribusiness enterprises.

He said the Department of Agriculture would launch early next year a national agripreneur program catering exclusively to graduates of agriculture, fisheries, forestry and agribusiness college courses.

Groups from various industries are opposing the CITIRA bill as they will be compelled to pack up operations here and relocate to another Southeast Asian economy.

One of the incentives that will be lifted once the CITIRA bill is enacted into law is the five percent tax on gross income earned paid in lieu of all local and national taxes, which investors deem crucial for keeping their operations in the Philippines.

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