Three pending bills in the lower house of Congress were deliberated by the Ways and Means Committee for in a Hearing on August 18, 2015 which was followed by another hearing last September 2. Both hearings were chaired by Representative Miro Quimbo (Marikina).
Representatives from civil society – Bantay Kita and Alyansa Tigil Mina, the industry through the Chambers of Mines and its members, and government through the Department of Finance and the Mines and Geoscience Bureau attended both hearings alongside other resource persons.
Those present during the first hearing aired their positions regarding the three bills. House Bill (HB) 5843 filed by Rep. Carlos Padilla (Nueva Vizcaya) is supported by Bantay Kita and was among the three other pending bills deliberated during the committee hearing. HB 5367 authored by Rep. Quimbo, touted as the administration bill, is the bill drafted by the Mining Industry Coordination Council (MICC)The MICC is composed of high-level government officials across agencies. The mining industry rallied support for the passage of HB 3586 by Rep. Silvestre Bello (1-BAP) and Rep. Lino Cayetano (Taguig).
The administration bill has faced strong opposition from the industry and civil society as issues were raised on the effective tax rate (ETR). The MICC bill was projected to raise the ETR the most at 71% relative to the two other bills proposed. HB 3586 on the other hand will yield a 50% effective tax rate which is already similar to the current MPSA’s effective tax rate.
Bantay Kita pushes for reforms in status quo and supports HB 5843. The Philippines has a lower effective tax when compared to other countries like Papua New Guinea with an effective tax rate of 57.8 percent and Uzbekistan with 62.9 percent. This translates to lower shares from natural resource extraction for the government and the Filipino people. HB 5843 will raise the effective tax rate to 63%, lower than the MICC bill but higher than status quo and HB 3586. This fiscal regime also includes a provision on imposing a 5% export tax on raw ore, similar to Indonesia’s new policy, to encourage downstream industry in the country.