Biz group revives WFH debate in new appeal to gov’t

By Alden M. Monzon@AldenMonzonINQ

December 4, 2023 12:00:00

The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc. (AmCham Philippines) is urging the government to allow registered businesses to implement full work from home (WFH) setups all while continuing to receive tax perks.

AmCham Philippines executive director Ebb Hinchcliffe said they wanted a provision on this included in the amendments to the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprise (CREATE), which is currently being discussed at the House of Representatives.

“We would prefer to have a 100-percent WFH ability in there. Get modern, you know, like the rest of the world ... ,” Hinchcliffe told reporters on the sidelines of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) general membership meeting in Makati last week.

He said the proposal to have just 70 percent of the workforce doing offsite work was a “livable” arrangement, but 100-percent was more preferred.

FIRB’s abolition?

He also hoped amendments to the CREATE law, which was created to stimulate economic recovery from the pandemic, would lead to the abolition of the interagency Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB). Led by the Department of Finance, FIRB grants tax incentives to registered business enterprises.

“The elimination of the FIRB, that’s one level of red tape that we’d like to see removed,” he said.

FIRB clashed with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) over registered businesses’ work arrangements during the pandemic, with the former threatening companies of being stripped of their perks if they insisted on offsite work.

The companies were given leeway until September last year to have WFH arrangements while still being eligible for tax incentives.

To resolve the long-standing impasse, the FIRB decided to offer to these enterprises the option to move their registration to the Board of Investments (BOI) if they wanted to continue with their WFH arrangements.

Later in December of that year, the BOI said it had received the transfer endorsements of more than 780 registered business enterprises. INQ