Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Update, not tax hike on RPT sked

Provincial Press Conference: A press conference led by PangasinanGovernor Amado T. Espino was held recently at the swanky Training & Development Center at the Capitol Ground in Lingayen. Aside from Espino, the members of the Provincial Board and the municipal mayors of the province were there to answer the queries of media men on the controversial land tax the provincial government has just passed (Text and photo by MorTz C. Ortigoza)

LINGAYEN - “For the last eight years, the people of Pangasinan have been enjoying a prolonged real property tax holiday.”
This was declared Governor Amado T. Espino, Jr. during the press conference today, April 11 at the newly-inaugurated Pangasinan Training and Development Center here as he took exception to “unfounded and malicious insinuations recently raised by some quarters against the provincial government regarding the newly revised tax rates imposed on real estate properties.
The press conference was participated in by members of the provincial board chaired by Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Calimlim, Jr., town and city mayors ,and some representatives of various local government units in the province, Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan and Provincial Assessor Nestor Quiambao.
In clarifying the issue, Gov. Espino said that the move to increase said tax collections was “not a unilateral, whimsical act on the part of the province but an act to comply with the law, and to implement the directive of the national government issued thru the Department of Finance (DOF) and Department Of Interior and Local Government (DILG).”
As mandated by the Local Government Code (RA 7160), general revision of LGU tax codes should be made every after three years. In the case of Pangasinan, the last revision was in 2003, or 8 years ago.
Following the mandate of law, a general revision on real property tax impositions should have been undertaken in 2006 and in 2009.
However, the Governor said that due to the three powerful typhoons that wrought heavy damages on the province’s agricultural crops and also on private and public properties, the provincial government decided to withhold new tax increases in 2009 for humanitarian considerations, especially on the part of marginalized farmers who were directly affected by said natural calamities.
“It’s unfair for the provincial government to be slapped with malicious insinuations and unfounded speculations when in fact the current administration has done its part in making things lighter for Pangasinense taxpayers,” the governor said..
“The people should realize that for allowing them to enjoy very low real property tax assessments for an extended period of eight years, the provincial government has continually failed to comply with the law,” the Governor added.
According to the Governor, the provincial government ironically gave up large amounts of foregone revenues that otherwise would have been spent to further improve the economic condition of the constituents, particularly the members of the farming community through the acquisition of more and better infrastructure support facilities, such as farm-to market-roads and irrigation facilities.
If the law was followed, a general revision should have been conducted in 2006, and another in 2009. The third general revision should take place in January 2012.
In spite of the very low tax rates, Gov. Espino explained, the province has implemented so many projects over the last four years as compared to the last nine years of tenure of the past administration.
Under the RPT scheme, municipalities receive the biggest share of 40%, while the 35% goes to the province, and 25% to the barangay. In the case of cities, the province has no share and taxes are shared only by the city with 75% share and the barangay with 25%.
It will be recalled that an updated schedule of property values was submitted to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan last September 2010. Public hearings followed which was attended by Real Estate Developers, Real Estate Brokers, Real Organizations and BIR officials who were asked to present the zonal valuation of properties in the different cities and municipalities throughout Pangasinan.
            After the public hearings and further review, the SP enacted Provincial Ordinance No. 146-2010 approving the Proposed Schedule of Market Values effective December 10, 2010.
The land distribution in Pangasinan constitutes about 70% agricultural, 15% residential, 10% commercial, and 5% industrial.
Provincial Assessor Nestor Quiambao cleared that the tax increase is 100% for rice lands contrary to claims that the tax hike would reach 300 to 800% increase.
With this, an example was presented during the press conference which showed direct facts that the updated schedule of market values passed by the SP is well below current BIR zonal valuation level and much lower that the market values prevailing within the province.
Towards the end, Vice Governor Calimlim said that the SP did its job as policy makers.
“We have to obey and abide with the laws otherwise the Governor, being the chief executive of the province will be penalized, and on the case of the cities and municipalities, the mayors will be the ones held responsible,” he said. (PIO/Ruby R. Bernardino)

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