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"Bogus Co-ops are Rats!" – Rep Bravo

QUEZON CITY -- Kung may daga sa bahay, hindi mo naman kailangan sunugin yung bahay! (If there are rats in the house, you don’t have to burn the house!)

These were the strong words spoken by Representative Anthony Bravo of Coop-NATCCO Partylist at the induction of the Board of Directors of the Philippine Cooperative Center (PCC) last July 21.  

Bravo was replying to statements by Dept. of Finance officials that co-op tax exemption privilege should be repealed because many co-ops were established by unscrupulous businessmen to evade taxes.  

“We will not tolerate the activities of these pseudo-cooperatives who are circumventing the law to evade the payment of taxes. We condemn such acts for they are giving the cooperative sector a bad name,” Bravo said in his Privilege Speech at the Congress session on July 25.

Co-operatives are exempt from taxes, according Articles 60 & 61 of the Cooperative Code.

The Dept. of Finance drafted the Tax Reform Bill that proposes to remove tax exemptions – including those of co-ops.  
 “The coop sector will help the government in its tax collection efforts and in curbing bogus cooperatives,” he added.

In a meeting with co-op leaders last April 17, Finance Undersecretary Karl Chua listed violators as labor recruiters who put up service co-ops, rice traders using agricultural cooperatives to skirt import duties, and usurers who put up credit co-ops to leverage the tax exemptions.

“I have asked the DOF to name co-ops so we can go after them, but they could not give names,” he told 15 new officers of the PCC, staff and guests.

However, the solon maintained that it is not right to remove the tax exemption of cooperatives just because there are some groups abusing the system.

The lawmaker said he is contemplating of filing a resolution in aid of legislation to investigate the activities of unscrupulous groups who are operating as cooperatives but whose business model is different from the legitimate cooperatives.

The coop solon also proposed the creation of an inter-agency audit team composed of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Cooperative Development Authority, Department of Trade and Industry and representatives from the coop sector to audit cooperatives in the country.

Moreover, Bravo assured the government of full cooperation to ensure that the tax privileges granted by the government to cooperatives are not abused.
“We commit to the government that we will police our own ranks. We will encourage the national and regional coop federations to ensure that their respective member cooperatives are real and are operating based on the cooperative values and principles that we instill to each and every co-operator,” he said.
Bravo thanked the House leadership led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and the 167 district and partylist representatives for supporting the retention of VAT exemption of cooperatives in the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) bill passed by the House on May 31.

Partylist Coop-NATCCO represents the cooperative sector in the House of Representatives.

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