The government is now putting finishing touches to a road map that will promote fair revenue-sharing between the government and its mining contractors, thus, requiring an amendment to the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.
Jonas R. Leones, the designated spokesman of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, told reporters at a news conference at the DENR Conference Hall on Tuesday that the development of the mining industry road map came after Cimatu conducted consultations with mining stakeholders and the DENR’s own unit in charge of regulating the industry, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB).
He said the DENR believes that an amendment to the current mining law is needed to ensure that the government gets its fair share in the minerals being exploited by the mining contractors. “If you see the Mining Act, it is not that good, in the sense that the sharing between the industry and the government is not clear. Under the Mining Act, we only get 2-percent excise tax and 5 percent if the activity is undertaken in a mineral-reservation area,” he said.
But Leones was quick to point out that Cimatu’s mining policy is guided by President Duterte himself. “The President wants the community to be protected and well compensated, so that is our direction.” The target, Leones added is to complete the road map within the year, although Cimatu wants it done at the earliest possible time.
Asked if the 2-percent increase under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act is not enough to make the government lift the moratorium on new mining projects, he said: “It seems to be the direction; even at 4-percent tax. But it is not revenue sharing, it is an excise tax.
“There’s also the corporate tax. What we are trying to push is revenue sharing, the government should really have a share; that is why there is the moratorium on new mining contracts,” he said.
Leones noted that in other countries, the government’s share in mining profits reach up to 50 percent to 60 percent. But he made it clear that the President will always have the final say when it comes to mining. “As I’ve said, the direction of the DENR under Secretary Cimatu will always depend on the pronouncement of the President.”
Also, Leones said the road map will provide policy direction or guideline in the conduct of progressive rehabilitation.
He said Cimatu, who visited mining areas in Caraga, discovered idle areas damaged by mining operations. Some mining companies argue that leaving portions of a mining tenement exposed is a strategy, but Cimatu does not want that because anytime, when rains pour, there will be flood and landslide, he added. “Based on the road map, we will be requiring mining companies to rehabilitate the areas.”
Cimatu wants immediate rehabilitation to be done whenever possible. “Another policy direction, instead of exporting the minerals, mining companies will also be asked to do the processing. These are some of the directions to address problems besetting the mining sector. He said the road map is already finished and Cimatu wants the final draft presented as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Leones shared that the DENR still has no particular lawmaker in mind who will champion whatever mining-law amendment is necessary based on the road map. Nevertheless, he said there are several bills pending in Congress where the DENR is actively engaging lawmakers in the discussions.
“Discussions in Congress about these things are ongoing and the DENR is really participating in the discussions, looking at the possible amendment to the mining law,” he added.
Government wants more than just taxes from miners, eyes fair revenue-sharing scheme
Reprinted from Business Mirror dated February 6, 2018 as authored by Jonathan L. Mayuga