Biz chamber pushes for reforms in local tax, investment laws

24 April Shanna SBNC bioco2
Roderico Bioco, president of Bukidnon Kaamulan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. speaks during the 19th Strictly Business News Conference at DTI-Bukidnon
Bukidnon News.Net photo by Shanna Haque Talisik/Bukidnon State University Development Communication intern

MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/23 April) To make Bukidnon fully open for business, it has to fix gaps in its local tax and incentives codes, among others, a business chamber official said.

Roderico Bioco, president of the Bukidnon Kaamulan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (BKCCII) cited needed reforms in the tax and incentives codes of the province to provide better business environment.

“At the start of the day, you are supposed to put up signage saying Bukidnon is ready for investments, but you cannot (because of incoherent tax, investment, and other laws),” he said.

He said it is good to promote to investors but policy environment should be correct, too.

“If investors (check on government’s) due diligence; we can only get very brave investors – but they are not as aggressive,” he said, adding Bukidnon is not the only investment destination.

Bioco spoke at the 19th Strictly Business News Conference at the Department of Trade and Industry-Bukidnon office on April 23. The chamber has announced the holding of a forum mapping out Bukidnon’s top commodities aside from rice, corn, and sugar. He cited other top commodities of the province as rubber, abaca, cacao, cassava, oil palm, and banana cardaba.

He said it is important to lay out the value chain of these commodities to draw out investment plan to support and promote the commodities to possible investors.

But he said there is no use fixing the investment promotion if the business environment is incoherent.

He cited investment promotion initiatives like the road map and their campaign for reforms in local tax and incentives codes, business permit processing, and zoning ordinances, among others as “parallel efforts” of the chamber.

Bioco cited alleged incoherent tax codes for example in Malaybalay and Valencia cities.

In Malaybalay, which became a city in 1998, he said the bureaucrats are still using a tax code fit for municipalities based on Presidential Decree 236, an earlier version of the Local Government Code of 1991.

Bioco cited for example in the said tax code version, the case of computing tax based on gross sales.

“But gross sales/receipts may include Value-added tax (VAT). You cannot tax a tax,” he said, adding at the time the old tax code was passed, there was still no VAT.

He cited the case of the trucking industry, where he is one of the players. He said trucking is also excluded from the tax computation based on gross sales.

“Only the provincial government can tax on trucking. Even with that, they can only tax per unit, not on gross receipts,” he added.

These updates, he added, should be included among provisions in local tax codes.

He also cited the pending review on Valencia City’s recent revision of its tax code, which faced criticism from different sectors.

Bioco noted their “big suspicion” that the tax codes in the rest of Bukidnon’s 20 towns have the same fate as that of the cities.

He said there is a need to work on these reforms at all levels. He cited that the Bukidnon provincial government last year has passed its own investment code.

“But at the local level (in towns, cities), there is disengagement (along this line),” he said, citing the need to harmonize at the two levels.

Bioco said they encounter the argument between tax payers and local government every year.

“Even if you expedite the business registration/licensing process – you’ll get stuck in the tax computations (based on incoherent tax codes), he added.

He said at the current rate, not so many businessmen will invest except for the “brave ones.”

Bioco said to address the problem they have signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Interior and Local Government to be able to plan out interventions.

For example, they are holding a conference among local treasurers, assessors, planning and development officers, among others to promote understanding and so they start transforming their laws.

He said they saw it as an appropriate step before elevating the advocacy to elected officials (for proper legislation).

Bioco, however, admitted that the problem of incoherent tax code is national in scale citing cases between the city governments of Manila and Batangas with the same issues.

He said DTI and DILG wanted to institutionalize changes through business chambers like BKCCII. (Walter I. Balane/BukidnonNews.Net)

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