Mines closure to hurt tax efforts — Tetangco

THE suspension and closure of mining companies ordered by Environment Secretary Regina Lopez will affect the economy, particularly the tax collection which is essential for implementing the government’s development projects, Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said Tuesday.

“It has implications on the taxes collected by the government,” Tetangco said at the sidelines of the Management Association of the Philippines’ general membership meeting in Makati City.

“This can [also] affect the implementation of the programs of the government,” he said.

He made the statement even as the Mining Industry Coordinating Council will finish next week the vetting of those who will join the team that will review the operations of the mining companies.

BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr.
Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin said the members of the MICC had agreed to form a subcommittee that will vet the members of the technical team.

“We start as soon as we can and we set ourselves a deadline of three months and we’re going to pursue that target,” Agabin said. 

“We agreed within the body to act really fast and so the agreement by next week will try to finish the vetting process and with that we hope that the team having been finalized, then we hope that they can start as soon as they have been chosen.”

On Feb. 2, Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mine sites and the suspension of the operations of five mining firms across the country. A week later, she ordered the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements that were still in the pre-operation stage that the government had forged with the mining companies.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier warned it would take five years to cover the government’s revenue shortfall from the mining closures and suspensions. 

At a caucus of the Commission on Appointments committee on environment and natural resources, Dominguez told lawmakers they would have to look for more revenue sources to cover the shortfall.

Dominguez had said the review of the mining operations in the country by the Mineral Industry Coordinating Council would push through despite Lopez’s bid to suspend it due to legal issues.

Lopez had previously asked President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend a Cabinet oversight body’s review of her decision to either close or suspend 28 mines while the legality of such a review was under question.

Lopez reiterated in a memorandum that Executive Order 79, which called for the creation of the MICC, delegated review powers on the mining industry to the Environment Department not to the MICC.

Tetangco said it would be better for the government to announce the name of the next central bank governor at the soonest possible time.  

“I think the name of the successor should be announced as early as possible. In my case it was actually earlier. February of the same year. The earlier, the better,” Tetangco said.

Tetangco was first appointed in 2005 and reappointed in 2011. By July 2, 2017, Tetangco would be completing his 12 years as central bank governor.

“There are some from within the BSP, there are some from outside the BSP. But there’s no decision yet at this point in time. As the President said, he’ll be basically relying on the recommendation of the DoF [Finance Department],” Tetangco said.

Some of the frontrunners for the position are Deputy Governors Diwa Guinigundo and Nestor Espenilla Jr., East West Banking Corp. president and chief executive Antonio Moncupa Jr., and former Trade secretary and monetary board member Peter Favila.

Topics: Mines closure , Mining Industry Coordinating Council , BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. , Environment Secretary Regina Lopez , tax collection
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