On his first working day as the country’s top elected leader, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vetoed a bill establishing a special economic zone and freeport near the Bulacan airport that will be built by San Miguel Corporation (SMC).
RELATED STORY: Knives out and it’s just Day One! Bongbong trashes Imee’s pet bill creating Bulacan airport ecozone
In a veto message dated July 1, Marcos said the proposed Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport in Bulakan town “pose substantial fiscal risks to the country” and its “infringement on or conflict with other agencies’ mandates and authorities”.
“At the foreground, fiscal prudence must be exercised particularly at times when resources are scarce and needs are abundant. While this administration recognizes the objective of the proposed measure to accelerate economic growth in its locality, I cannot support the bill,” Marcos said in a letter dated July 1 and addressed to the Senate President and House Speaker.
| READ RELATED STORIES:
Campaign catfight: Imee at odds with Marcos Jr’s wife
Kayaten ngata ti Ilokano? Liza Araneta Marcos, not Imee, may substitute for Marcos Jr in case he’s DQ’ed
Marcos also explained that House Bill 7575 “lacks coherence with existing laws, rules, and regulations”, noting that it has no provisions for an audit by the Commission on Audit, procedures for expropriation of lands awarded to agrarian reform beneficiaries, and a master plan for the specific boundaries of the economic zone.
He added that the proposed measure grants the proposed economic zone authority “rule-making powers relative to environmental protection that is not found in the charter of other economic zones,” as well as “blanket powers to handle technical airport operations in contravention of existing aeronautical laws”.
Marcos also noted that the proposed economic zone is located “in close proximity” to the Clark Special Economic Zone, which is “against the government’s policy on creating special economic zones in strategic locations.”
Presidential sister Senator Imee Marcos was the main sponsor of the bill as chairperson of the Senate committee on economic affairs. It was approved by 21 senators last May, eight months after hurdling the House of Representatives.
The veto is seen as a sign of animosity between Marcos and Imee, who has reportedly been pushed to the sidelines while First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos emerges as a major power broker in her husband’s administration.
Under House Bill 7575, any foreigner who invests an amount of USD200,000 either in cash or equipment in a registered enterprise shall be entitled to an investor’s visa.
Registered enterprises operating within the Bulacan Ecozone may be entitled to the existing pertinent fiscal incentives granted under Executive Order No. 226, as amended, otherwise known as the Omnibus Investments Code of 1987, and to other fiscal incentives that may be provided by law.
Marcos said the bill had to be vetoed as it “will significantly narrow our tax base with its mandated incentives applicable to registered enterprises”.
“As the system would be rendered incapable of generating a yield sufficient to sustain the country’s social and economic infrastructure, the government would be forced to seek new sources of revenue through additional taxes or borrowings in the future. In the end, it is the taxpayers who will ultimately bear the brunt of the burden,” the President said.
(With a report from PNA)