A vial containing the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can be seen at the Basingstoke Fire Station in Basingstoke, United Kingdom, on February 4, 2021. Peter Cziborra, Reuters / File
MANILA – A bill to provide tax exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and medical supplies in the fight against the country's disease has been approved by the House Committee on Ways and Means, a lawmaker said Monday.
House Bill 8584 aims to change the National Internal Revenue Code to make testing, treatment, vaccination, and anti-coronavirus burst manufacture affordable domestically.
"The approval of HB 8584 to consolidate with house bills 8301, 8324, 8375 and 8376 demonstrates the determination of the house to carry its share of the burden in the fight against COVID-19," according to the BWH party list Rep. Angelica Natasha Co. said in a statement.
As the author of the bill, she said: "Everything that is needed in the fight against COVID-19 must be tax-free, regardless of country of origin, manufacturer and whether for the public vaccination program or for private vaccination by a medical professional."
This includes sales tax, excise tax, import duties, administration fees and local taxes.
The measure also aims to clear material for a possible local mass production of COVID-19 shots from tax import materials.
"Maybe next year or two years we need local production of COVID vaccines in the event of a global supply shortage," Co said in Filipino.
The Philippines has so far recorded over 537,000 coronavirus infections, of which more than 11,000 have resulted in death. The national record includes nearly 500,000 recoveries and over 26,000 active cases.
The government plans to vaccinate two-thirds of its population, or around 70 million people, against the novel coronavirus this year, which could start next week.
The country's first batch of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive from the COVAX facility "in mid-February," President spokesman Harry Roque said Monday.
In the first quarter, the global alliance COVAX Facility will deliver approximately 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including 117,000 doses of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which is expected to arrive in the third week of February.
House of Representatives, House Committee for Ways and Means, COVID-19 Vaccines Tax-Free, COVID-19 Medical Devices Tax-Free, BHW Party List, Angelica Natasha Co.