Archive for June 2, 2011

Is Espino giving in to pressures on new RPT?


By Vir Maganes
The provincial government has recently been the cynosure of media criticisms because of three main issues that for months has not waned. These are the new provincial real property tax (RPT), the coming in of the operations of jai alai and the ever controversial jueteng or 1/37 which is still operating underground for months.

The new provincial real property tax which was approved through Provincial Ordinance 146-2010, received the most reactions particularly from farmer leaders, businessmen and other sectors of the society.

It was contended that the RPT is too burdensome to the taxpaying public because of the sudden increase to 300% for agricultural lands and 500% for commercial areas. It was also implemented abruptly without the benefit of massive public consultations and hearings such that the resistance to its implementation escalated in almost all towns and component cities in the province.

The criticisms and resistance were parried off by Governor Amado T. Espino Jr. and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan stressing that the imposition of new RPT is long overdue since it has never been increased in 2006 and 2009 which is supposed to be in compliance with the Local Government Code of 1991 or Republic Act No. 7160. Four months of exchanging positions over the media did not unfaze the provincial government. It was bent on pursuing the implementation and has not apparently been sensitive to the public outcry and pressures.

As I wrote in my previous articles in this column, the new RPT should have not been resisted if proper process and procedures were undertaken by the provincial government. Assessments and reassessments of land market value follow a process so that the taxpaying public will be fully apprised of the newly imposed tax.

What the provincial assessor did in his recommendations for new market value was just to assign percentage increase without considering the real situation of the property. An example is a piece of land planted to sugarcane in 2003 but has been converted into a banana plantation in 2009. Apparently, the market value will not be the same as that in 2003. Another is when the agricultural land has been converted to either industrial or commercial lands , the market value will be upgraded. There should have been actual assessments in the field or in the various municipalities and the municipal assessors should have updated their tax declaration records for each parcel of land and indicated the improvements and changes of land usage.

I am not certain whether Espino has given in to pressures from the reacting sectors especially from the Abono Partylist which has announced its intention to file a case in the court to review the said ordinance. Lately, in a meeting with the municipal treasurers and assessors in various towns in the province, Governor Espino has announced that the new schedule for the payments of RPT will be changed in consultation with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. He said that the RPT will not be fully implemented this year but will be gradually implemented until 2015. For 2011 it will be 50%, 70% in 2012, 80% in 2013, 90% in 2014 and full implementation in 2015. It was a proposed move to appease those who are resisting the implementation of the new RPT but then it has still to be approved by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. He was quoted as have said “it’s only now that I’ve changed my decision”

Was this a sign of giving in to pressures from the public opinion? If it is, such action of Governor Espino is commendable because after all he had opened his ears and eyes to the realities that indeed the issue on RPT is not too light to handle.

Another proposal of Governor Espino is that all penalties of the real property tax from previous years will be condoned and the taxpaying public has until December 31, 2011 to pay their real property tax. However, the properties of delinquent taxpayers shall be sold through public auctions by 2012. And all payments in excess of the proposed collection schedules will be treated as tax credit, meaning it will be deducted from the tax payments next year.

Why so much fuss about the new RPT? Why is the provincial government trying to implement it abruptly? Is the provincial coffer already in a mess? By the way, what is the real financial condition of the province? We are all aware that the RPT is one of the local sources of revenues including that of the quarrying permits, franchises and the internal revenue allocations (IRA) from the national government. Are the collections from these sources enough to pay the obligations of the province- for the salaries of employees, implementation of public projects and payment of loan amortizations and interests?

It was heard that the province has millions of loans from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and I surmised that without the new RPT, the provincial government could not meet the imposed amortizations and interests of these loans. Am I right Malou Utanes, the erstwhile acting Provincial Accountant and now designated acting Provincial Treasurer? What is the financial condition of the province?

Personally, I am not against the imposition of new taxes if it means more services and projects to the public. But the imposition of new taxes should be consultative in nature which follows proper processes and procedures. Taxes are the bloodlines of the government- both national and local.

Well, let’s wait the new schedule of payment that will be provided to the public? Will it get another resistance from the public? Will the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan approve it anew?

(for comments, email me at emperorvirgil@yahoo.com)

June 2, 2011 at 9:11 am Leave a comment


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