By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent
The House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling on President Duterte to grant travel tax exemptions to passengers departing from Mindanao and Palawan going to any destination in the BIMP-EAGA, or the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia- Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
The BIMP-EAGA is an economic and diplomatic initiative in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines in 1994.
The adopted House Resolution 1463, or “A Resolution strongly urging His Excellency, President Duterte, to renew the policy which grants travel tax exemption to travellers departing from all international airports and seaports in Mindanao and Palawan to any destination in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia- Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
It is authored by Committee on Tourism Chairperson Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez (4th District, Leyte), Reps. Mercedes Cagas (Lone District, Davao del Sur), Gil Acosta (3rd District, Palawan), Frederick Siao (Lone District, Iligan City), Glona Labadlabad (2nd District, Zamboanga del Norte), Ma. Lucille Nava (Lone District, Guimaras), and Makmod Mending Jr. (Party-list, AMIN).
The Resolution seeks to grant travel tax exemption to travelers from Mindanao and Palawan to BIMP-EAGA to help enhance trade, tourism, and investments in the said areas.
The resolution pointed out that the revenue losses from the tax exemption proposal can be compensated by the projected economic and social gains to Mindanao and Palawan, and the country as a whole.
It said that among the BIMP-EAGA member-countries, only the Philippines collects travel tax on its outbound international travels, which, House members said, runs counter to the sub-regional objective of promoting the connectivity and accessibility of EAGA focus areas as well as facilitating freer movement of people, goods and services.
The resolution further states that the call to renew the travel tax exemption policy of government comes in this very opportune time when Mindanao is being positioned as a strategic logistical hub not only in the ASEAN but also in the rest of Asia under the ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan.
It emphasizes that it is essential for the government to capture the interest of travel service providers to invest in Philippines-EAGA routes by providing the necessary incentives, one of which is the travel tax exemption for international travels from Mindanao and Palawan to all EAGA destinations.
To promote mobility of travelers across the sub-regional areas and for airline companies to open up services within the Philippines-EAGA routes, former President Fidel Ramos issued Memorandum Order Nos. 237 and 266, in 1994 and 1995, respectively, granting travel tax exemption to all passengers originating from Mindanao and Palawan, by air and/or by sea, to any destination within the BIMP-EAGA.