- By Tyrone Jasper C. Piad @Tyronepiad

THE Fiscal Incentive Review Board (FIRB) has granted tax incentives to P29.4 billion worth of projects outside Metro Manila, which include a mass housing developmen­t and two cement manufactur­ing plants.

Broken down, the mass housing project in Iloilo is estimated to cost P1.4 billion; the proposed cement plant in Porac, Pampanga will have P3.1-billion investment; and another cement plant in Calatagan, Batangas is seen to cost around P24.9 billion.

The housing project was granted a fouryear income tax holiday (ITH) and duty exemptions on importatio­ns of capital equipment and raw materials.

The Pampanga facility received two-year ITH while the Batangas plant, including the installati­on of clinkering facilities, was granted a six-year ITH. Both were provided with five years of enhanced deductions and duty exemptions on importatio­ns.

Finance Assistant Secretary and FIRB Secretaria­t Head Juvy Danofrata said the Iloilo project includes over 3,000 units of “economic” and “low-cost” housing, in a bid to address the housing backlog in Western Visayas.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said granting the Iloilo project tax perks encourages the private sector in helping government fill the gap in affordable housing.

The proposed cement plant in Pampanga is seen to generate P866 million worth of yearly savings from import expenses. The facility is expected to fill the cement demand of the infrastruc­ture sector.

The plant will increase the existing production line of the proponent by 898,560 metric tons (MT) from the current 687,473 MT.

“The projected net benefits of the investment are driven by the locally sourced capital equipment and raw materials as well as the income taxes that the government will potentiall­y collect from the estimated job creation of the project,” Danofrata said.

Trade Undersecre­tary Ceferino Rodolfo, meanwhile, explained that the two-phase project in Batangas will incur higher project costs due to the clinker production, noting it is the “most expensive aspect of cement manufactur­ing.”

The Batangas facility is seen to have a capacity of 2.5 million MT of cement per year.

Lopez said the cement manufactur­ing projects will help “lessen the country’s import dependence, increase our local capacity, and encourage competitiv­eness in the industry.”

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