THE mining industry urged lawmakers on Monday to prioritize the approval of the revenue-sharing bill that would directly give the local government units a bigger tax.
At the Pandesal Forum in Quezon City, Michael Toledo, Philex Mining Corp. senior vice president for public and regulatory affairs, said amid the huge “excise taxes, other types of taxes, royalty fees, social development projects and infrastructure expenses,” miners nationwide welcome the review of the revenue-sharing scheme to benefit the areas of the mining operations and even the entire province.
“For one reason or another, it [bill] was not passed. The [past] government did not give [much] importance on revenue-sharing,” he said.
“We are open to revenue-share scheme,” he said, adding mining plays an important role in the development of the rural areas.
“Let’s not forget that if there is no mining in an area, there is no government. What do I [mean] if there is no government? There are no roads, water, electricity, livelihood [opportunities], schools and hospitals where there is no mining,” he said.
“Where there are mining operations, there are developments. I am saying this not because we want to enhance and expedite the business, but it is stated in the law. We cannot evade the law.”
He said the voluntary actions undertaken by the mining companies to uplift the lives of the local communities and even the outlying areas is “stated under the law.”
“A case in point, Baguio is a creation of mining as well as the whole province [of Benguet] itself,” he said.
Citing the Philippine Statistics Authority’s data, the most impoverished areas are those without mining activities, Toledo said, adding “these are not just words out of the air, but these are based on clear data, empirical and scientific data.”
Most local government units where mining operates have not felt the positive impacts of mining within their areas, he said.
“It takes two to three years before what we pay in terms of taxes trickle down. That’s the sad reality because of bureaucracy,” he noted.
“We at Philex are seeking a law allowing us to directly pay taxes to the concerned local government units where the mining is conducted at the soonest possible time. We are open to do things, to review the scheme.”
Under the present setup, excise taxes from mining operation go straight to the national government.
“Of course, we are not taking away the national government’s revenue share, but it [tax] must go to the local government directly,” he said.
Dr. Ramon Clarete, University of the Philippines economic professor, and Dr. Carlo Arcilla, UP director of the National Institute for Geological Science, support the operation of mining industry.
“If we discover deposits, that will go straight to the state,” Clarete said.
On the other hand, Arcilla said mining is a “complicated business.”
“The government must listen to experts and cut corruption,” he added.
“Mining is helping the government,” Halcon of the Chamber of Mines said.
According to Toledo, Philex has welcomed the order of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez to audit all mining operations in the country.