MANILA, MAY 25, 2007
(TIMES) By Katrina Mennen A. Valdez, Researcher - THE Board of Investments (BOI) said it is refining the guidelines for tax and other incentives granted to companies venturing into mass housing project aimed at offering the maximum allowed by law to address the Philippines’ housing backlog.

“We are currently in the process of refining it, with a close coordination with the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC),” Trade Undersecretary Elmer C. Hernandez, who is also BOI managing head, said.

Hernandez said that HUDCC is conducting an inventory to update the country’s housing data. When an inventory was last conducted in 2005, the country was supposed to have a backlog of 1.4 million units.

Hernandez said the HUDCC inventory would help the BOI determine how many horizontal units and vertical projects the country still requires.

“Say we need 60 million units from a vertical housing projects, while we still need 40 million horizontal units. These are the only ones that are set to enjoy tax incentives,” he said.

Those qualifying for tax and other perks are projects with units costing from P300,000 to P3 million.

“If a certain real estate developer has already met the ceiling to a certain area, then [it] would no longer be qualified to apply for tax incentives for their next housing projects,” Hernandez said.

He said that apart from the usual incentives, these projects are set to enjoy a 12 percent discount from their project cost. The official however failed to say whether this discount would come in the form of a government subsidy.

“Any benefits that the government will give [them], [we] will see to it that the end beneficiaries are the people who want to have their own house,” Hernandez said.

The Cabinet recently approved this year’s Investment Priorities Plan, which is a list of industries set to enjoy tax and other incentives. Apart from mass housing, the list also includes steel manufacturing, telecommunications expansion to unserved areas, shipbuilding and shipping, electronics, automotive assembly, among others.

The government has been hard-pressed to limit the tax perks it offers investors to allow it to balance its budget by next year. A bill aimed at reducing such incentives remains pending before Congress.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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