Mining EO gets wary welcome from businessmenBy Riza T. Olchondra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Joint Foreign Chambers expressed concern about the uncertainty that may arise from certain sections of Executive Order 79 on mining reforms, including provisions that government would not enter into new mining agreements until new legislation on revenue sharing gets passed.
In a statement, JFC highlighted Section 4 of the EO, which states that, while the government will continue to grant and issue exploration permits, it will “decouple” such agreements from the granting of mineral agreements, which will not be entered into until a law rationalizing revenue sharing takes effect.
Such a decoupling, the JFC said, is an investment deterrent.
“The EO states that those with exploration permits will have the first option to develop, should an economic deposit be discovered. The JFC is of the view that no mining company can be expected to spend extremely large amounts of money on exploration without certainty, the grant of a mining title and without first knowing the fiscal regime,” the group said.
On the provision requiring consistency of local ordinances with national laws, JFC said that to attract and deliver certainty of investment into the Philippines, the government should prioritize the resolution of this long-running issue.
“The JFC awaits clearer advice from the government as to how it plans to implement this very important test of investor confidence,” the group said.
The JFC also noted that government’s intention to bid out new or newly cleared mining areas with “known and verified mineral resources and reserves” is “relatively untried” in other regimes around the world.
JFC said it is concerned that this process is “open to self-serving manipulation.”
The group then suggested that the Philippine government consult with stakeholders as to how it implements its plan to close certain areas to mining applications in situations that are not genuinely high-value areas of significance to conservation, tourism, agriculture or aquaculture.
The JFC also welcomed several areas within the 22-point EO of particular interest, including: the enforcement of environmental standards; formation of a Mining Industry Coordinating Council; streamlined permitting process or a one-stop shop for all mining-related applications and processes within six months from the effectivity of E.O. 79; the commitment to provide the timely release and even an increase in the share of national wealth from mining to the local government units; and tackling illegal mining, establishment of mineral reservations.
Relatedly, while acknowledging the government’s desire to improve its revenue share from mining production, the JFC welcomed the Philippine government’s recent invitation to the International Monetary Fund to to analyze local conditions and make recommendations on the fiscal regime for mining in the country.
Short URL: http://business.inquirer.net/?p=70631