Finance chief expresses concern on mine closures
The head of Duterte’s economic team on Friday expressed concern about the job losses and foregone tax revenues to be brought by the environment department’s order to close down up to 23 mines.
Asked if he deemed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) order was prudent, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters that economic managers “have to assess first [its] decision.”
“I have to consult with other economic managers. But my primary concern is the impact on employees, and my secondary concern is the impact on municipal finances because municipalities collect a lot of taxes” from mining operations, Dominguez explained.
Later, the finance secretary tweeted: “I am deeply concerned over the welfare of the 1.2 million people affected by the closure of the 23 (Philippine) mines. This will result in joblessness.”
Dominguez said he would convene next week the interagency Mineral Industry Coordination Committee (MICC), which he co-chairs with Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.
Dominguez noted the adverse impact of Lopez’s order on employment in mining communities. “In Surigao alone, one company employs 10,000 people. That’s my primary concern—the impact on employment in these rural areas.”
To provide jobs to those to be displaced from mining operations, Dominguez said he already asked his colleagues in the Cabinet if they have emergency employment programs in place.
“The Department of Social Welfare and Development is looking into it, so is the Department of Public Works and Highways to accelerate its projects. The Department of Trade and Industry has some emergency programs, as does the Department of Labor and Employment. They have responded and we’re going to meet to [reduce] the impact on the employees,” the finance chief said.
Also, Dominguez said he was concerned about how local government units could earn revenues if they could not collect from mining firms, which “pay a lot of taxes to the local governments.”
“We’re still assessing how different municipalities will be affected. We’ll check with local treasurers to give us [estimates on the] potential impact on the local communities. Our concern is primarily local,” Dominguez said.
As a whole, Dominguez said a crackdown on mining would ultimately impact on gross domestic product (GDP) growth. “That one, of course, is a concern, but people’s concerns are our first concern,” he pointed out.
Dominguez said he has yet to talk to President Duterte about these concerns, but said that economic managers would first discuss these issues among themselves to immediately address the impact on jobs and local revenues. “I want a quick assessment on the impact on those people in mining [communities].”
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