The Philippine Economics Society (PES) held its 52nd Annual Meeting last November 14, 2014 at Intercontinental Hotel Manila with the theme “Forging Ahead: The Philippines as a Developed Economy in 2050”. An estimated 400 participants composed of policymakers, market leaders and the academe attended the series of plenary presentations and parallel sessions.
Bantay Kita sponsored one of the parallel sessions focusing on the topic of mining and development. Papers that were presented during the session were “Philippine Mining Industries: Barbarian Relic of the Past?” by Armando Armas Jr, “Overview of Coal Mining in the Philippines” by Anton Ragos, “Fiscal Policy in the Large Scale Mining Industry” by Christian S. Monsod, “Mining Taxation and Investment” by Ramon Clarete and Karl Adriano.
The parallel session gave an overview of the Philippine mining industry and its costs and benefits to the country’s economy. Armas presented data recognizing the potential contribution of mining from his book entitled “Philippine Mining Economy: A Tragedy of the Constitution”.
On the other hand, Ragos argued that coal mining in the Philippines has more social and environmental impacts than its projected benefits. His stand was echoed by Monsod’s presentation, which emphasized that mining should only be allowed when four minimum conditions are met: (1) the environmental, social and economic costs are considered, (2) the country gets a fair share of the value of its natural resources, (3) the government has found an effective mechanism in evaluating and regulating mining activities, and (3) new capital is created from profit gained from mining.
Clarete’s study, as presented by Adriano, showed evidence that a new mining tax regime will raise the average effective tax rate on copper, gold and nickel from 16 percent to 81 percent, which may potentially lead to a decrease in mining investments in the country.
The session was facilitated by Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa Habitan of the Department of Finance and the chairperson of the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI). An open forum followed the presentations of the four speakers.
Other prominent speakers during the PES Annual Meeting were chair of the Senate Committee of Ways and Means Sen. Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, Roger van den Drink of the Economic Department for East Asia and Pacific Region, resident representative of the International Monetary Fund Shanaka Jayanath Peiris, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., and European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux.