Travel tax exemption for passengers departing from Palawan, Mindanao to BIMP-EAGA countries sought

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The House of Representatives has recently adopted a resolution “strongly urging” the President 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.

The lower chamber adopted the House Resolution 1463, also known as “A Resolution strongly urging His Excellency, President Rodrigo 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).”

The said resolution was authored by House 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 BIMP-EAGA is an economic and diplomatic initiative in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines established in 1994.

The purpose of the said travel tax exemption is to help enhance trade, tourism, and investments in the BIMP-EAGA.

“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,” the lower House said in a statement.

The chamber added that among the members of the BIMP-EAGA region, the Philippines is the only country that levies travel tax on its outbound travels, while adding that it runs counter to the sub-regional objective of promoting the connectivity and accessibility of EAGA focus areas.

The resolution also states that a travel tax exemption policy would be good for Mindanao as it is being pushed 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,” the House of Representatives said.