BAGUIO CITY December 31 – The Baguio-Benguet chapter of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) wants the city government to defer plans of increasing both real property and business taxes in the Summer Capital until such time that the group has finalized its position paper in relation to the hike in local taxes.
Alfonso Lao, area vice president of the PCCI North Luzon, said the chamber is still conducting massive consultations with the different affected sectors in order to consolidate whatever counter proposals and the subsequent submission of their general consensus on the increase in real property and business taxes.
“We respect the power of the city government to increase local taxes but all aspects of the proposal, particularly to its effect to the influx of investments should be taken into consideration so that sensitive tax-related issues will be addressed,” Lao said.
Earlier, the city’s local finance committee submitted its proposal to increase the city’s real property and business taxes by an average of 10 percent over prevailing charges considering that the city government has been rated below par by the Bureau of Local Government Finance for its failure to update the assessment levels of real properties every three years and its business taxes every five years.
The proposed ordinance increasing the assessment levels of real properties and business taxes is now pending before the city council for the conduct of the appropriate public hearings in order to listen to the clamor of the people on such impositions by the local government.
Being the umbrella organization of business groups in the city, Lao called on the city council to continue the conduct of more public hearings among the affected stakeholders so that acceptable and meaningful provisions will be contained in the ordinance which will be enacted for the purpose of hiking local taxes.
He believes the increase in local taxes is wrongly timed and would send a wrong signal to prospective investors wanting to put up their own business in the city, saying that there are numerous investors who earlier signified their interests to establish their respective branches in the city but are now thinking it over after learning the plan of the local government to increase real property and business taxes.
According to him, the PCCI will be submitting their consolidated position paper reflecting their stand on the proposal to increase real property and business taxes before the city council in due time to guide local legislators on what actions to take on the pending proposal.
Mayor Maurcio G. Domogan said the city government will respect the position of the local chamber relative to the proposed increase in real property and business taxes, citing that the city government has already been left behind by other chartered and component cities in terms of fiscal competitiveness because of its failure to update its assessment levels of real properties over the past 18 years and its business taxes for nearly 15 years now.
“People should understand taxes are the lifeblood of government. To date, the city’s rapid growth in population warrants the city government to spend more for the delivery of basic services that will surely come from the taxes paid by the people,” Domogan stressed.