Bill exempting critical medical supplies from taxes gets House nod in final reading

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 1) — A proposed measure seeking to provide tax relief on critical medical supplies — like medical oxygen was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives on third and final reading.

Voting 202-0-0, House Bill No. 8895, also known as the Public Health Emergency Importation Tax Exemption Act, was approved by lawmakers during Tuesday's session.

The measure aims to exempt from taxes and other fees the procurement, sale, importation, distribution, and donation of critical medical products, essential goods, equipment, input, and raw materials during public health emergencies made by private firms, government instrumentalities, local, and national governments.

Critical medical products refer to vaccines and other medicines necessary to contain the health emergency, while essential goods are gloves, gowns, masks, goggles, face shields, and surgical equipment, to name a few.

Moreover, the bill mandates the health and finance secretaries to draw up a list of medical supplies also deemed vital in containing the health crisis, which will also be exempted from taxes.

Upon the recommendation of the health and trade chiefs, the finance secretary may also suspend the threshold on the required export sales so manufacturers can sell their products in the local market.

In early August, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was considering asking Congress to provide tax relief for medical oxygen manufacturers for "producing a very vital component in the fight against COVID-19."

This came after concerns on its supply were raised as the country's COVID-19 cases surge due to the more transmissible Delta variant.

Currently, there are 1,989,857 COVID-19 cases in the country, of which 145,662 are active cases or currently ill patients.

CNN Philippines' Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.