10 senators OK Escudero proposal to double tax rates on mining firms

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After a heated debate, majority of senators voted on Monday night to double the tax rates on mining firms.

Ten senators voted in favor of Senator Francis Escudero’s proposal to double  the tax, two  were against it while three abstained from voting.

It was Senate President Ralph Recto, who initially made the proposal after  learning during plenary debates on the  proposed tax reform measure that  the  total revenues  being collected from the mining industry amounted to P1.8 billion only.

“We’re only collecting P1.8 billion so my proposal to double it is so low.  We will just collect an additional P2 billion,” Recto said.

But Recto withdrew his proposal after Senator Sonny Angara, who is defending  the tax reform measure as chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means, asked that the panel be given time to deliberate on the  proposal.

It was Escudero, who pursued Recto’s proposal.  Angara then called for a nominal voting.

Before voting on the issue, some senators stood up to manifest their position on the issue.

“We also wish to correct the lopsided-sharing of non-metallic  mineral mining proceeds in the country,” Senator Joel Villanueva said.

Compared with neighboring counties like Vietnam, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea,  he said, the Philippines  has one of the  lowest tax rates on mining with  only two percent.

Senator Grace Poe also believes that raising the tax on mining would not  “kill” the  industry.

“I think this is one particular sector that definitely there is room for expansion in terms of taxes. If we need to discourage certain practices and we don’t really want to encourage too much mining in our country right now  here’s your answer,” Poe said.

Besides, even if consulted,  Poe expressed doubts  that the mining firms  would agree to raise their  taxes.

“Even if we’ve had  a committee hearing on  this,  in the end, we decide   what  in our conscience, at least our conscience  should  be our  guide   as to what  we feel  is best for our people,”  the lady senator added.

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