Solon wants facemasks, sanitizers exempt from taxes

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    QUEZON City Rep. Precious Hipolito-Castelo said facemasks, sanitizers, antiseptics and other similar goods should be exempt from import duties and local taxes to “assure adequate supply, stabilize prices and avoid hoarding at this time of crisis.”

    “Our goal is to make these currently important health products available in the market and enable consumers to buy them at cost,” said the lawmaker, who vowed to file a tax emption bill this week.

    Castelo said there is a need to flood the market with these goods so prices would go down and unscrupulous traders would be discouraged from hoarding them and selling them later at prohibitive prices.

    She said while the measure could “pinch” government revenues, “it could bolster public safety, sustain commerce and keep the economy at its feet.”

    Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera has filed a bill seeking to provide financial assistance and skills training to jobless Filipinos amid business closures and possible job losses due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.

    Herrera filed House Bill 4932, which mandates the establishment of a Labor Empowerment Assistance Program, a three-month bridging program, which will be linked to the skills training and upgrading of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) for unemployed Filipinos.

    In the past weeks, the country’s labor sector has been hit by job losses starting with the closure of Wells Fargo, which was followed by Nokia Technology Center Philippines and Honda Cars Philippines.

    The Philippine Airlines (PAL) also laid off hundreds of its employees due to losses caused, in part, by coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

    “While retrenched employees are entitled to separation benefits from their employers, the government must also step in to provide, not only financial assistance, but also skills training that will equip them with the necessary skills needed in the labor market today so that workers can easily find other jobs,” Herrera said.