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House body OKs SMC int’l airport project in Bulacan

THE House committee on ways and means has approved the draft substitute bill for the franchise granting permission to the leading conglomerate San Miguel Corporation’s plan to put up an international airport in Bulacan.

To be dubbed the “New Manila International Airport,” the new airport will be built in the coastal areas of Bulakan, Bulacan, around 30 kilometers north of Metro Manila. The plan is expected to decongest the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and support growth and development in Central Luzon.

The panel tackled the substitute bill for the franchise today, following earlier approval by the House committee on legislative franchises.

The committee report with significant tax implications is automatically referred to the House committee on ways and means for its discussion and approval.

“The final report that came out of the tax committee, and following our own conversations with the House leadership, is significantly more tempered than the original. On its own, the project was already going to be beneficial, as a P740-billion infrastructure investment that will come entirely out of the private sector’s hands. That’s 4% of GDP. In return, we are being asked to provide some tax concessions. By tempering the tax provisions, we made sure that the Filipino people will get even more economic benefits for less taxpayer cost,” tax panel chair Salceda said.

Salceda added that “by making the tax provisions fairer, we are making sure that the public gets more returns from this project.”

Makati City Pabakuna

“Gusto kong matuloy ang project na ito. But we need stronger guarantees of returns for the public,” Salceda said during the hearing.

“The Bulacan airport project will make a lot of money. Anything beyond the 12% rate of return will be subject to 50-50 sharing,” Salceda added, referring to the profit-sharing agreement in the franchise, where, above a 12% profit margin, SMC’s subsidiary in charge of operating the airport will share half of its profits to the government, and all profits above 14%.

Salceda said it is critical that “all other income derived outside airport operations should be taxed regularly.”

“There will be hotels and restaurants in the surrounding ‘Airport City,’ so we want to make sure that the franchise’s tax privileges only extend to the airport operations,” Salceda explained.

Meanwhile, the Private Public Partnership (PPP) Center has assured the committee that the government will not have financial obligations to SMC. “Walang ibabayad ang gobyerno,” PPP Center Chair Ferdinand Pecson said during the tax panel’s hearing.