BY JOHNNY NOVERA
IT appears that even the business sector that originally opposed the increase in real estate taxes (RET) by the Iloilo City Hall has withdrawn its objections.
The Sangguniang Panlungsod therefore approved a compromise tax adjustment of 30 percent on real estate properties in the city starting 2015.
As stated in our article, “Budgeting and Control” dated August 19, 2014, we believe Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog must also disclose his budget plan for Iloilo City.
The amount of P7.2 million annually paid to 18 executive assistants (EAs) is a substantial expense. We presume that their salaries were already included in the budget approved by the Sanggunian. But why this apparent emergency in mid-term to raise real estate taxes?
Going over the names of the EAs as listed by Lapsus, it does not look like any one of them would need a job.
But if the city needs their technical expertise and they wish to help, we challenge them to offer their advice to the city mayor free of charge in view of the limited budget of our city at this time.
In our column of July 9, 2014, The Ranking of Philippine Cities, you will note that in 2013 six cities from the Visayas and Mindanao, including Puerto Princesa in Palawan, we in the top 19 cities in annual income. They were:
Of Iloilo’s Annual Income of P1.5 billion in 2013, P900,000 was collected from local taxes equivalent to 61.5 percent. Only P600,000 came from the national government.
We are almost in the same category as Cebu that earned 61.9 percent of its annual revenues from local sources.
On the other hand, Cagayan de Oro earned 54.1 percent of its annual income from local sources; Davao, 43 percent; Zamboanga, 24 percnet; and Puerto Princesa, 19.6 percent.
In the figures shown above, you will note that there is revenue contributed by the national government. Why don’t we approach the Department of Finance to increase its support of our budget to the level of what is being extended above to the cities of Davao, Zamboanga, Puerto Princesa and Cebu of P1 billion to P2.6 billion annually?
You will note that we have the smallest support from the national government of only P600 million for the year.
With our city mayor claiming closeness to the President (PNoy acknowledged him from the audience while delivering his State of the Nation Address recently), we challenge him to see the President and ask help from national funds and do away with the increase in real estate taxes at this time.
It is very important that we need first to attract expansion or new business to come to our city and not scare them with rising taxes right away. (For comments or reactions, please e-mail to [email protected])/PN