Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia yesterday said he will hold a dialog with the business groups in Bacolod City today at the Government Center on some queries regarding the New Revenue Code of Bacolod and to give them the rationale behind its implementation.
“We know that some have questions, which is normal and expected. But we also want to make the public aware that there are politicians who are exploiting the situation,” he said.
Leonardia said it would be supposed that if a politician wants to serve Bacolod, he should look at the welfare of the city, instead of muddling this with politics, referring to an interview given by former Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella over RMN where he stated that he is filing a complaint before the Department of Justice questioning the New Revenue Code of Bacolod City.
Puentevella also invited other taxpayers to join him in filing the case.
In initial talks with some business leaders in the community, Leonardia said, he had advised them to look at the motives of the person making the claims.
He also asked them not to allow themselves to be used as political tools, or even propaganda materials of such politicians, he said. He added that he believes that most of them are aware that the more appropriate venue will be a forum with the incumbent city officials.
Leonardia said that, under the Local Government Code, a local government unit must amend its Tax Code every five years. Since he came in as mayor in 2004, they tried to amend the Code in 2008, within the five year period, but due to some technicalities, it did not pursue, he said.
If the Code had been amended in 1993, taxes would have accumulated and the taxpayers will be paying higher rates, he said. It is better for them to be paying just now, as against what they would have paid if they had started paying since 1998 and onwards, he added.
Leonardia said they had very valid legal basis in implementing the new code. The last Revenue Code was regressive, he said citing, as example, that as the income increases, the taxes decreases, which is not a healthy basic principle in taxation, because the Local Government Code encourages it to be progressive.
Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson said he believes only a business taxpayer of Bacolod who has actually paid his taxes, can file a complaint questioning the New Tax Code of Bacolod City. “He should show that he has paid in protest before he files the case,” he said.
Sayson said that in 1993, almost all LGU’s in the country adjusted their Tax Codes including Bacolod. However, the Tax Code of Bacolod did not conform with the table or requirement given by the Local Government Code, he said.
Only the Leonardia administration had the courage to amend its Tax Code since the city is already being required by the national government to comply with all the requirements of the LGC, Sayson said.
Leonardia said his administration has a year to go and it is not going to be the biggest beneficiary of the increase in taxes. But this is meant for the city itself, because its taxes should have bearing on its status and its economic activities, he said.
“I hope the amendment of our Local Government Code will help accelerate further the growth and development of Bacolod City. This is also timely, since the creation of 16 cities will take away P45 million from us and the reduction of the Internal Revenue Code is another P35 million,” he said.
Meanwhile, Leonardia said the Sangguniang Panglungsod has approved a proposal that the deadline of prompt payment will be extended from January 20 to February 15. The Code provides that taxpayers who pay on time will be given an incentive of 10 percent discount.
Permits and Licensing head Vicente Petierre III said he is encouraging businessmen to avail of the 10 percent discount as mandated by the Code if they pay their taxes in full until February 15. After February 15, there will be surcharges of 25 percent, aside from the monthly penalties they have to pay, he said.
Lilibeth Gamboa of the City Treasurer’s Office said that from January 2 to 20 they have collected P129 million as payment for business and special permits which is P24 million higher compared to their collection last year of P96 million.
She said they expect to reach their target next week of P150 million.
Gamboa said that as of yesterday, 6,000 have paid their taxes out of the 16,000 tax payers in the city. Out of the 6,000, about 3,900 have paid their taxes in full, she said.*CGS