DENR ends talks on new mining policy, says questions can be raised with PresidentBy Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has closed the door on the consultations on the new mining policy being drafted, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said, noting that those wanting to appeal some provisions should bring their case to President Aquino.
Paje, in an interview with reporters, said the DENR has held enough discussions with various stakeholders on the new mining policy that would soon be unveiled in an executive order by President Aquino.
“Our view is that we have considered all inputs. If they want to appeal, they can go to the President,” Paje said.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines and the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of the Philippines have opposed certain parts of a draft executive order, laying down stricter rules on mining applications and imposing 5 percent royalties on mining firms.
According to these groups, the changes sought in the mining industry would make the Philippines an unattractive place for investors. It would also create an atmosphere of uncertainty for existing operations.
Aside from mandating mining companies to pay for royalties on top of tax, the proposed rules also call for replacement of the “first-come, first-served” system in mining applications with competitive public bidding. It also states that prime agricultural lands and eco-tourism zones to areas closed to mining activities.
Paje said the government has become determined to get royalties from mining firms, saying it should “optimize” its revenues from finite resources. “We are losing P5 billion every year because they are not paying royalties,” he said.
Eleven of 31 mining firms in the country who have operations in areas declared as mining reservations are already paying 5 percent royalties. The rest have only been paying a 2 percent excise tax, he said.
The DENR chief said some members of the economic team of President Aquino are keen on getting more revenues from the mining industry.
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Tags: Benigno Aquino III , Business , Chamber of Mines of the Philippines , DENR , Department of Environment and Natural Resources , Government , Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of the Philippines , Mining and quarrying , Ramon Paje