House urged PNoy to certify bill exempting toll fees from Vat.

Bayan MunaThe Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means has urged President Aquino to certify as urgent and for immediate enactment House Bill 5382 seeking to exempt the services rendered by toll way operators from the value-added tax in light of strong public opposition to the implementation of the 12 percent VAT on toll fees effective last Oct. 1, 2011.

The request was contained in a letter of Rep. Hermilando Mandanas (2nd District, Batangas) to President Aquino dated Oct. 4, 2011.

"May we respectfully request your Excellency to certify as urgent and for immediate enactment, Committee Report No. 1479 on House Bill 5382 which the House Committee on Ways and Means approved on Oct. 4, 2011, in response to the massive public outpour of disapproval on the implementation of the 12 percent VAT on toll fees," said Mandanas. 

With the economic hardships that the Filipino people are now going through, Mandanas said the 12 percent VAT on toll fees will further burden the citizenry as it will definitely increase the transport cost and in turn increase the cost of basic commodities, and other goods and services.

"Hence this exemption of the toll way fees from the 12 percent VAT will be a much needed economic reprieve for the Filipino people," Mandanas said.

Mandanas said the bill entitled "An Act Exempting the Services Rendered by Tollway Operators from the Value-Added Tax, Amending for the Purpose Sections 108 and 109 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as Amended" seeks to exclude services rendered by toll way operators from the definition of "sale or exchange of services" covered by the VAT on the "sale of services" under Section 108 of the NIRC of 1997, as amended, and to exempt such services from the coverage of the VAT under Section 109 of the NIRC of 1997, as amended.

The bill is a consolidation of HB 4971 filed by Rep. Arthur Yap (3rd District, Bohol), HB 5171 by Rep. Homer Mercado (Party-list 1-UTAK), HB 5185 by Rep. Victor Ortega (2nd District, La Union), and HB 5303 by Rep. Teddy CasiƱo (Party-list-Bayan Muna).

During last week's committee hearing, resource persons lauded the sensitivity and immediate action of members of the House Committee on Ways and Means led by Mandanas on the toll fee issue.

George San Mateo, Secretary-General of the Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON), said the higher toll fees would further burden the people as he called on the administration not to undermine the effect of the higher toll fees on the public.

Elvira Medina, national president of the National Council for Consumer Protection, said the new toll fees would eventually lead to higher transportation fares which will burden those working in Metro Manila who commute daily from the provinces. 

Tutol-SLEX spokesperson Sammy Malunes said considering that the toll fee is the most expensive among all toll fees, exempting the VAT on toll will provide an immediate relief in these times of high prices and stagnant wages.