The Sangguniang Bayan of Virac headed by Vice Mayor Arlynn Arcilla is in the midst of discussions on the proposed revision of the Revenue Code.
To guarantee growth in the business sector and ensure the capital town’s competitiveness in terms of attracting investments not only from within but also outside the province, the legislature has to consider the basis of computing the business permit fees, which many businessmen see as regressive.
For decades now, ever since then Mayor Cito Alberto began implementing an unspoken policy of using the gross income as basis, businessmen have been groaning under the huge amounts they pay for the privilege of doing business in Virac. Pursuant to the policy, their gross incomes are always deemed to have increased by at least 10 percent, even if in reality they have sustained losses.
The aim, if one may see it, is to eventually place one’s business within a higher income bracket that would result in higher fees and thus higher revenues for the local government. This is not only unfair for the businessman, but also discouraging to the investment climate.
An example would be the meat section at the Virac public market. For years now, only a very few butchers have secured the mayor’s permit. Those who have complied have paid the fees based on the number of carabaos and pigs slaughtered in the previous year multiplied by their approximate value, regardless of the fact that the butchers were only buying the animals from outside sources and adding on a profit margin.
The same regressive policy is imposed on fish vendors, who are mainly sourcing their fish from middlemen who buy the marine products from fishermen at sea or on shore. This is why the price of fish continues to be high.
This is also the reason why less than half of the meat stands at the public market is occupied, with scores of illegal meat stands now operating along main streets in violation of the National Meat Inspection Code and existing municipal ordinances. By the way, why is nothing being done about the stands, when the past administration charged Manuel Tablizo with the same offense thrice in the past?
As one veteran businessman observed, there have been times when the mayor’s permit fees they paid were even higher than the taxes they paid to the Bureau of Internal Revenue. This is due to the arbitrary way in which the LGU assesses the permit fees.
Why can’t the LGU use the declared income of the businessman in his previous year’s Income Tax Return as basis and then apply a reasonable percentage to get the mayor’s permit fee due to the government? This way, there would be no more arguments about the fees since nothing escapes the BIR these days.
Following the suicide of the BAC chairman of the Energy Regulatory Commission over what he claimed was pressure from the ERC commissioners to approve the award of an anomalous contract, Pres. Digong Duterte has asked all ERC officials to resign from their posts.
Of course, nobody would comply as they all have security of tenure and they have yet to be found guilty of an administrative offense.
What does this development mean for the people of Catanduanes? For several months now, the petition of FICELCO and SUWECO for the approval of the first amendment of its ESA, as well as the Swiss Challenge over the Solong diesel plants, has been pending before ERC. It may be recalled that the petition has been opposed by consumer groups as well as former FICELCO general manager and now Virac mayor Samuel Laynes.
If the entire commission, chaired by Albay native Vicente Salazar, resigns, consideration of the petition would be delayed and the 50,000 member-consumers would continue to pay the highest power rates in the Bicol region.
You see, the board of directors has allowed the power firm to supply the grid with 2 megawatts from its diesel plant despite its being just a back-up of the hydro power plants. Without the ERC’s blessing of the deal, the cost of power from Solong would be its true cost as the power firm could not enjoy government subsidy like CPGI and NPC. The longer ERC sits on the petition, the longer power consumers on the island would continue to suffer.
GOOD NEWS. A defense lawyer told his client: “I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is your blood test came back and your DNA matches the blood found on the victim, the murder weapon and the getaway car.”
“Oh no!” said the client. “I’m finished! What’s the good news?”
“Your cholesterol is down to 140.”