Bill on ?Balik Scientist? program hurdles final reading

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The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill encouraging Filipino scientists or technology experts abroad to return to the Philippines to share their expertise and contribute in the country’s development.

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Zamboanga del Sur representative Victor J. Yu, chairman of the House committee on science and technology and author of House Bill 6346, said the bill would provide Filipino scientists with various incentives for short and long-term programs.

Yu said the government recognizes that the utilization of the expertise of expatriate Filipino scientists and technologists is a vital component of the nation’s political, economic, and social development efforts.

The bill mandates that the “Balik Scientists” shouls be engaged for either a ?short-term award? of at least 30 days per award to be served within a year or a ?long-term award? of 24-36 months to be served within five years.

For the short-term award, the incentives include one free round-trip airfare; tax-exempt daily allowance; participation in Grants-in-Aid (GIA) research and development projects of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The scientists will also be exempted from the licensing or permit requirement of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), tax-exempt donation of instruments related to the scientific project and the grant of special non-immigrant visa.

Other than those provided under a short-term award, incentives under a long-term award include relocation allowance; housing to be arranged by the host institution; duty-and tax-free importation of one unit second-hand motor vehicle with gross vehicle weight (GVW) not exceeding 3000 kgs.

They will also get reimbursement of expenses for the surface shipment of personal effects and professional instruments including one motor vehicle not exceeding three and one half tons volume weight and exemption from travel tax including that of his or her immediate family members.

Likewise, they will be provided with immigration clearance certificates and payment of multiple entry fees; securing alien employment permit and availability of infrastructure budget for the construction of a laboratory.

The participation and service of expatriate or returning scientists will be governed by rules and regulations that will be promulgated by the DOST in consultation with relevant agencies of the government and non-government organizations.

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