Firb set to discuss extension of WFH setup for IT-BPM workers

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THE Fiscal Incentives Review Board (Firb) has clarified that the the extension of the work-from-home (WFH) arrangement for the information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) workers is still up for discussion.

In a position paper submitted to Finance Secretary and Firb chairman Benjamin Diokno, the Firb secretariat explained that the Philippine Economic Zone Authority’s (Peza) decision to extend the WFH arrangement of IT-BPM companies until March 2023 lacks legal basis.

“To date, the current and effective resolution issued by the Firb states that the WFH arrangement for the IT-BPM companies within the ecozones is only until Sept. 12, 2022,” said Finance Assistant Secretary and Firb Secretariat head Juvy Danofrata in a statement.

Asec. Danofrata pointed out that neither the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (Create) Act nor the previous Firb resolution gives any of the investment promotion agencies (IPAs), such as Peza, the power to unilaterally allow the adoption of WFH arrangements.

She said that any move to extend the WFH arrangement beyond Sept. 12 would need the approval of the Cabinet-level interagency body through a resolution.

She added that the resolution should be anchored on the extension of the State of Calamity or a declaration of the President of an exceptional circumstance, with Rule 23 of the Create Act Implementing Rules and Regulations prevailing as its legal basis.

According to Danofrata, the Firb Secretariat is already coordinating with the Board of Investments in studying options to allow the WFH arrangements for the Peza’s locators in the IT-BPM sector.

She added that the matter will be deliberated in the Firb’s next meeting in mid-September.

Diokno, in a previous meeting, highlighted the importance of ensuring compliance among the Firb stakeholders, including the IT-BPM locators, with the provisions under the Create Act to achieve an effective tax incentives regime in the country.

“It is crucial that the locators in economic zones comply with the ongoing terms and conditions of their registration in order to continue receiving tax incentives as IPA-accredited businesses,” said Diokno.