Last March 22, the Association of Certified Public Accountants in Commerce and Industry successfully held its 2nd General Membership Meeting and Seminar at the Bahia Lounge of the Hotel Intercontinental Manila, Ayala Avenue, Makati City. ACPACI’s GMMs are interactive forums where industry experts are invited to discuss relevant and timely topics to ACPACI members. The 2nd GMM also marked the organization’s 39th founding anniversary with the theme “Sustaining Integrity in Challenging Environment”.
For the March 2012 GMM, Senior Vice-President for Investor Relations of SM Investment Corporation, Ms. Corazon P. Guidote, discussed the Philippine Economic Outlook for 2012 at the luncheon meeting; Tax and Corporate Services Group Director of Manabat Delgado Amper & Co., Atty. Walter L. Abela Jr. presented the topic: ITR Preparation Readiness with emphasis on the new BIR forms: 1700, 1701 and 1702, to be used starting this forthcoming tax season of April 2012 and other BIR updates in the technical session.
According to Ms. Guidote, the Philippines could expect a bullish market in 2012, the year of the Water Dragon. The bull run which started in 2009 is projected to continue even beyond 2012 as indicated by the current strong performance of the Philippine Stock Exchange Index. She shared that the 2012 GDP forecast is geared toward the 5.5% - 6.5% growth level, that the Philippines has a sound monetary system and is enjoying a structurally positive balance of payment; its external debt-to-GDP has been cut in half in 6 years; its banking system is liquid and well-capitalized; the banks’ Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) have shrunk and the NPL coverage ratios have strengthened, and more Filipinos are learning how to save for future provisions. The country’s credit worthiness has been upgraded by the top 3 credit rating agencies: S&P, Moody’s and Fitch. However, she opined that we deserve a higher credit rating because the country’s per capita GDP and GNI have considerably improved and so as our other credit worthiness metrics like the National Government Debt to GDP, import cover ratio and inflation rate, and the like.
The SM Executive also added that the increasing consumer spending is one of the major drivers of our economic growth, along with the steady influx of the OFW remittances. Our International Reserves is projected to stand at the $75Billion level in 2012 and $80Billion in 2013. It is refreshing to know from Ms. Guidote that HSBC has ranked the Philippines as the 16th largest economy in the world by 2050 jumping 27 spots from today, and because of its expanding foreign exchange reserves and the growing BOP surplus, the Philippines has been elevated from a borrower country to a LENDER country in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), of which it is a long-standing member. In fact, according to recent news**, the Philippines contributed $125Million to the IMF to help address the financial crisis confronting the economies in Europe including Ireland, Portugal and Greece. Now, that is something new.
For every credit there is a corresponding debit, Ms. Guidote discussed the threats to business like the volatile financial markets, the instability of Middle East countries which threatens OFW jobs, the tougher competition for overseas jobs that Filipinos are facing, the severe weather condition and inflation pressures. She believed, though, that business would do better “if the drive for fiscal consolidation and the drive against corruption are balanced with fiscal support for the broader economy through infrastructure and job creation and that great support be awarded to the agriculture sector toward self-sufficiency to make the sector less vulnerable to climate change”. She said that sunshine sectors like agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, energy and its alternatives, fashion, food and fun and green technology including gold trading will get a boost in 2012.
Meanwhile, during the technical session, ACPACI members received a wealth of reference materials which contain recent BIR updates and digests of the latest Supreme Court Decisions from Atty. Abela. The tax expert focused on guiding the ACPACI members on how to get a handle on the new BIR Forms.
The most noticeable change is the layout of the forms; the forms used to be portrait but now they are in landscape format; plus there are more boxes to be filled out. At first, the new forms looked imposing and filling them out seemed onerous on the part of the tax preparers, but things got easier as Atty. Abela explained and walked the participants through the new tax forms line by line and field by field. For those companies who file their taxes through eFPS, he advised to check the BIR website for its latest announcements regarding the availability of the interactive forms online because at that time, the Bureau was still preparing the online forms and was about 60% complete. He also added that in case the BIR would not finish the forms in time for the April 15 deadline, the eFPS taxpayers are then required to file their taxes manually and then file an amended one when the online forms become ready. (As of this writing, the BIR Forms: 1700, 1701 and 1702 are now available for use by all taxpayers, kindly check out the BIR’s website).
The question and answer portion ensued after the technical session. Also, during the 2nd GMM, new ACPACI members were inducted by ACPACI President, Ms. Rebecca Arago, as introduced by Ms. Feliciana Santos, Director for Membership Development; an AVP/teaser of the venues of ACPACI’s upcoming annual convention: Naga City and Camarines Sur, was presented by the Annual Convention Chair, Ms. Corazon Rey. The Annual Convention is slated on September 20 -23, 2012. As usual, the food was uber superb especially the “to die for” mango crepe samurai. The program was emceed by Mr. Lawrence de Leon and Ms. Consuelo Cadelina, ACPACI Chair for Meetings and ACPACI Director for Professional Development, respectively.
**Remo, Michelle,”The Philippines Contributed $125M to IMF as of End-’11,” in Philippine Daily Inquirer, (22 February 2012).