ZCCIF nixes proposed hike in real property tax PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 November 2010 15:05

The Zamboanga City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation (ZCCIF) has expressed strong opposition to the proposal of the city government to increase the real property tax.

The opposition was aired during a public hearing on the proposal held at the City Council last Wednesday.

ZCCIF president Pedro Rufo Soliven described the proposed increase as "mind-boggling and outrageous."

“While we don’t question the authority of the officials concerned, in fact we appreciate how Mayor Celso Lobregat is managing Zamboanga City, we think the timing is not right,” Soliven said.

Soliven disclosed that businessmen were greatly affected by this year’s power crisis and water rate increase, not to forget the pending implementation of the septage fee and “we just increased the salary of our employees by P30 across the board. Now they are looking for another increase in the real property tax? it is really affecting our business.”

According to Soliven, he has referred the matter to the chamber’s legal counsel Atty. Giovanni Luistro and is set to submit a position paper which will be addressed to the City Council.

Soliven added "we do not question the inherent right of the LGU to look for ways and means to raise revenue... however we are airing our concern on the reasonableness of the proposed increase of the real property tax at 600%.... we must not lose sight of the fact that taxes must be equitable and must be based as far as practicable on the taxpayer's ability to pay... that it should not be unjust, excessive, oppressive or confiscatory".

He said businessmen are looking at the situation on a macro level. “If we benchmark Zamboanga City with other cities in Mindanao as in the question of competitiveness, how can the city attract investors when the cost of doing business is already unaffordable?” Soliven asked.
The chamber president appealed to the august body to exercise caution and prudence in their decision as the huge increase will surely affect the business climate in the city.
Soliven emphasized that the decision of businessmen who would like to expand or improve their businesses will be affected if the increase will materialize.

“We don’t want to take an adversarial position. We were invited at the first public hearing by the City Council’s Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Ordinances and Resolutions chaired by Councilors Nonong Guingona and Rudy Lim, so we manifest our concern because this is the sentiment of the group,” Soliven added.

Meanwhile, Atty. Giovanni Luistro also expressed concern on the effects of the proposed almost 600% real property tax increase to the business community in the city.

Luistro said they are not questioning the power of City Hall to tax since said power is granted by law, what they are concerned about is the amount of the tax increase which according to him, is very unreasonable.

Luistro explained that "taxation is one of the inherent powers of the state. It being an inherent power, it is also susceptible of abuse and can be used as a tool to oppress people. That's why the Supreme Court in its pronouncements on the weilding of the taxation powers have always safeguarded against tax laws being unjust, excessive, oppressive and confiscatory." He said the almost 600% increase in real property tax is clearly unjust, excessive, oppressive and confiscatory. 

According to Luistro, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) only increased their zonal valuation by more or less 100% in a span of almost 10 years. Said zonal valuation is used by the BIR as basis in collecting one time taxes such as sale, mortgage, etc. He said the City Assessor should not compare their zonal valuation with that of the BIR since the zonal valuation of the city is used as a basis to collect real property tax from people every year. "But despite the frequency in tax collection, the city is proposing to increase our zonal valuation by as much as 600%, 500% more than the zonal valuation of the BIR".
Luistro clarified that they are not saying they are not supporting Mayor Celso Lobregat in his quest to bring progress to the city, but they have to air their concern so that the city government will also know their opinion on the matter.

Councilor Rommel Agan, on the other hand, said while he recognizes the need of the city to increase taxes, such increase should be reasonable and timely.

The sponsors of the almost 600% increase in real property tax are Councilors Benjamin Guingona, Rudy Lim, Ahman Nuno, Percival Ramos and Eddie Saavedra.

The next public hearing on the proposed increas has been scheduled on November 9.