Senator Bong Go urged that the Balik Probinsiya Program (BPP) be made “top priority” when the country adopts a “new normal” after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said government agencies have been instructed to finalize respective plans for the relocation of people from Metro Manila and other urban centers back to their home provinces.
“So, ‘yung mga gusto nang bumalik na ngayon, we’re finding ways and means, subject to the quarantine requirements,” Roque said.
“That’s now become a top priority. It’s forthcoming,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte backed the proposed BPP, saying that having a fresh start in the provinces would give a sense of hope for people amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Go said the national and local governments must create a stable and conducive policy environment that will entice stakeholders and investors to start businesses in the provinces.
“Pinaghahandaan na rin natin ang ‘new normal’ kung saan kaya nating harapin ang epekto ng krisis na ito sa ekonomiya at sa pang-araw araw natin na buhay. Nais nating siguraduhin na makakaahon ang bansa at magiging mas handa sa anumang krisis na daratin,” Go said.
Go said motivating residents of metropolitan center and incentivizing businesses to relocate to the provinces would be the long-term goal. Key programs of different agencies that can help promote the BPP must be identified and prioritized.
“Bukod sa gusto nating umuwi sa probinsya ang mga Pilipino mula sa mga siyudad, tulad ng Metro Manila, isa sa mga layunin ng Balik Probinsya Program ang pagsigurong handa at kaaya-aya ang mga probinsya para sa mga bagong negosyong ipapatayo ng mga mamumuhunan,” Go said.
Go said these BPP policies should complement the objectives of the proposed Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (Citira) now pending in the Senate. The bill, which seeks to reform the corporate income tax and incentives system, will provide a fair ground of tax collection and incentive for urban and rural areas, and benefit local and rural communities with the new investments coming in.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and acting National Economic and Development Authority Director-General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua believe passage of the Citira bill will reinforce the BPP.
Chua said grant of tax incentives should target the provinces because the current system grants the same incentives regardless of the location of a business in the country.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año instructed local government officials to prepare a peaceful environment for businesses under a post-lockdown scenario for the success of the BPP.
“If we want the proposed Balik-Probinsiya Program to succeed, we must ensure peace and order in all provinces,” Año said in a statement.