Thursday, November 25, 2010

Public rejects new tax hike in Zamboanga

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 25, 2010) – Various groups in Zamboanga City in Mindanao have rejected a proposed hike in the local real property tax.

Even traders and land owners echoed strong opposition to the proposal which seeks to slap 600 percent increase in taxes. They said even fruits trees planted in private lands are included in the proposal which City Hall insists is needed to fund construction of school buildings in Zamboanga City.

Some of the real property tax goes to the so-called Special Education Fund, which is being used to finance school projects and salaries of some teachers under the local school board, among others.

And the local school division head, Dolores Alcantara, said she is supporting the proposal because if it is approved, the new taxes would benefit the education sector. But her statement drew from those who are opposing the colossal tax hike, saying, Alcantara does not even owned any property in Zamboanga.

City hall was quick to issue a press statement praising Alcantara’s statement, saying “the education sector has expressed it's all out support to the proposed increase in the collection of real property taxes citing school children from this generation and the future generations as the primary beneficiaries of all these.”

A public hearing on the proposed tax hike also showed that many of those who attended had rejected sudden increase in real property taxes.
Government media have branded the proposed real property tax hike as “controversial,” saying public opinion was divided on the issue.

“The buzz seems to get louder as divided public opinion muscles with the controversial issue on the proposed 600 percent increase in real property tax,” the Philippine Information Agency reported.

It said a local group called Concerned Citizens of Zamboanga has also opposed the tax hike. The group also released a position paper signed by the Zamboanga City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation; Southern Philippines Deep Sea Fishing Association; the Industrial Group of Zamboanga Inc., and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

“The position paper stipulates of its strong opposition to the proposed increase as the incorporated position paper explicitly states that there is no pressing need for an increase of its fair Markey value; proposed hike in valuation is not justified owing to slower economic growth rate of Zamboanga City; the city has to be more competitive compared to other cities in the region and in Mindanao; business sector will suffer another set back even as it's still reeling from the recent power crisis and Zamboanguenos can't afford to pay more taxes,” the Philippine Information Agency reported.

The City Council is also proposing to tax residents on a new ordinance that would collect revenues on septage services despite a similarly strong opposition from house owners who have their own sewer system.

Under the proposal, private firms would collect household wastes and disposed them and the local water utility cooperative would charge a certain amount for the sewage services. Septage waste is periodically removed, but typically less often than annually. (Mindanao Examiner)

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