Mining crackdown to worsen poverty

http://business.inquirer.net/224990/mining-crackdown-worsen-poverty

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (Ecop) said that the crackdown on mining would lead to “expansive poverty” with over a million workers losing their job.

In a statement, the umbrella organization of employers in the country noted that the recent orders of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would cut the support that mining communities currently depend on.

“This will fling the door wide open to expansive poverty with far-reaching consequences as to even drive the poor to feel oppressed and force them to join radical elements that will threaten the security of the state,” said Ecop president Donald G. Dee.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina L. Lopez ordered earlier this month to cancel 75 mining contracts in pre-development, close down 23 mining firms and suspend five others.

To compensate for losses in revenue and employment, Lopez said she wanted to focus instead on ecotourism.

However, in the meantime that affected areas shift toward ecotourism, displaced workers would not have alternative sources of income, Dee said.

He also said that this would deal a blow to indigenous communities that host mining projects since stopping the mining activity meant cutting the payment of the royalty share to the IPs.

Citing data from the regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), Ecop said that royalty payments by 10 mining firms in the Caraga region alone amounted to P270 million.

“The economic implications will escalate to national proportion that can hurt the country’s economic growth”, warned Dee, adding that this also would cut the revenue sources of regions affected.

Echoing the sentiment of other members of the business community, Ecop called for due process and transparency regarding the mining audit.

Earlier, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the orders to suspend or close down 28 mining operations could cost local governments a total of more than P821.13 million a year.

The higher foregone revenues were based on an updated report of the Department of Finance-attached agency Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) from the earlier estimate of P653.6 million.

Dominguez said the suspension and closure orders would affect 17 cities and municipalities in 10 provinces, namely Benguet, Bulacan, Cebu, Dinagat Islands, Eastern Samar, Nueva Vizcaya, Palawan, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Zambales.

According to Dominguez, three municipalities were poised to lose revenues from mining operations that were equivalent to more than half of their current operating incomes due to the orders earlier issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Local collections of the affected local government units (LGUs) from mining firms amounted to P340 million, comprising real property taxes (RPTs) of P53.54 million, P263.13 million from business tax, fees, charges and other local charges, and P23.29 million from provincial revenues. The share of the affected LGUs from mining taxes collected by the national government account for P481.17 million,” BLGF acting executive director Niño Raymond B. Alvina said.

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