Monday, June 23, 2014

COA hits Marinduque provincial government: disadvantageous 'underspending', hesitation to collect certain Marcopper taxes


Previous post on this blog is about the seeming hesitation or deliberate attempt by authorities concerned to mislead by giving false information to the people on the correct income of the province. (Over P 416-M in 2013, but only P 200-M declared in various venues). 

The post also made mention of Marcopper's unpaid real estate taxes to the province amounting to around P 1-billion.

Curiously, the Commission on Audit  has recently "scolded" Marinduque provincial officials on issues related to these topics, see story below from Manila Bulletin. According to COA some P 106-million should have been allocated by the provincial government to finance various projects contained in the Annual Investment Plan.

It should also be noted that Marcopper's real property tax delinquency referred to in the article apparently refers only to "siltation and decant system and on the lot where the structure was erected" and excludes all other tax delinquencies on properties in the various municipalities of Marinduque.  

Underspending is disadvantageous to constituents, COA tells Marinduque

by Ben Rosario, Manila Bulletin

In most cases, the Commission on Audit (COA) chided government agencies for overspending or for failure to liquidate expenses.

But the case of the local government of Marinduque is something different.

COA has called on provincial officials of Marinduque to stop scrimping on their budget, saying that underspending is disadvantageous to their constituents.

COA aired this advice, noting that the provincial government left P105,933,256.93 of its development funds untouched although the money should have been allocated to finance various projects contained in the Annual Investment Plan.

In its 2013 annual audit report for the province, COA also scolded provincial officials for hesitating to collect over P19 million in unpaid real estate taxes from a mining firm that caused what is now viewed as the worst ecological disasters in the country’s history.


Source: docstoc.com

COA said Marcopper Mining Corporation owes the province a total P19,253,315 in real estate tax arrears. Narcisa Marapao, COA Region IV-B director, noted that the Supreme Court has upheld the right of the provincial government to collect the unpaid taxes.

State auditors noted that only P34,112,094.78 and P42,951,939.34 of the “total current and continuing appropriation for the 20 percent development fund of P77,639,340 and P105,357,951.06” were spent in 2013.

As a result of the slow spending, a “significant amount of unutilized balance of P105,933,256.93” was left.

According to COA, this has resulted in the inability of Marinduque to implement “desirable socio-economic development and environmental management outcomes” that would have created jobs and livelihood for  Marinduque folk.

“Implement immediately the programs and projects pertinent to the unutilized balance of P105,933,256.93 as embodied in the AIP,” COA auditors said.

They added: “For unimplemented projects which are inconsistent with the governing rules and regulations, initiate amendments or realignment of project to those that address the needs of the constituents as far as tangible projects and programs are concerned.”

In the same report, COA asked provincial officials to heed an SC decision on the controversy surrounding the non-payment of real estate taxes by Marcopper Mining Corporation.

“The SC decision is clear, final, and executory, thus, the provincial government should not be hesitant to demand what is lawfully due to it,” COA said as it reiterated previous observations against Marinduque’s failure to collect the real estate tax arrears.

“Real property tax delinquency of Marcopper Mining Corporation on siltation and decant system and on the lot where the structure was erected totalling P16,754,825.34 and P2,498,490.02 respectively or P19,253,315.36 for various years had not been collected despite the favorable decision of the SC under GR 170532 dated April 30, 2009, thus depriving the local government of much needed funds to finance its operations,” the state audit agency noted.

The uncollected taxes ballooned when MMC contested the tax assessment issued by the province in 1996.

It was on the same year that the mine tailing disaster took place and put to waste the Makulapnit-Boac river system and buried Barangay Hinapulan that displaced at least 400 families.

“For years, the collection of the taxes from the Marcopper Mining Corporation has been a heavy burden for the local government units whose residents were gravely affected by the operations of the mining company,” stated COA.

The audit body added: “It’s the almost two decades since it had ceased its operations and the closure of its offices has added to the predicament.”

Before the SC issued the ruling, the mining firm questioned the tax assessment before the Court of Appeals which decided in a 2005 that the siltation dam and decant system located in Barangay La Mesa, Sta. Cruz town, was tax exempt.

However, the SC reversed the CA decision as it promulgated on the same year that the appellate court was guilty of “grave abuse of discretion.”

“CA committed grave abuse of discretion in ignoring irrefutable evidence that the subject property is not a machinery used for pollution control, but a structure adhering to the soil and intended  for pollution control, but has not been actually applied for that purpose during the period under assessment,” COA said, citing the High Court decision. - MANILA BULLETIN

Also read:

Income ng Marinduque nililihim o kabulaanan ang  sinasabi sa sambayanan?

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Susong Dalaga Hill
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