PH to exchange English, fisheries and geothermal specialists with Chilean taxation savvyBy Gil C. Cabacungan, Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia—The Philippines is looking to send English teachers, fishery experts and geothermal specialists to Chile. In return, one of the world’s biggest mineral producers will teach local taxmen how to squeeze more revenues from mining companies.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said these were the topics discussed during the meeting between President Benigno Aquino and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera Echenique and members of their respective parties on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference (Apec) Leaders’ Summit.
“We are being asked to consider bringing in teachers who can teach English to a larger part of the population in Chile. We are also being invited to look into cooperation in aquaculture,” said Del Rosario.
He said he suggested that the two countries draw up a roadmap on how to enhance Philippine-Chilean relations.
Del Rosario said Chile was particularly keen on establishing a deeper partnership in geothermal energy with the Philippines, which is the world’s second biggest user of this renewable power source.
Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said Pinera was surprised that most of the Philippines’ geothermal developments were in private hands.
“In Chile, they are still looking at a significant government role. They were quite impressed with the private sector involvement (in the Philippines) because they said they were having difficulties doing that there in Chile. So we promised to help them with a framework, with the regulatory framework, and some of the things that we have done to encourage such investments,” said Almendras, who cited Chile’s huge potential for geothermal energy.
Almendras said he was “half-surprised” that Pinera raised the issue of geothermal power in the meeting with the President.
“We already have a geothermal investor from the Philippines in Chile — EDC (Energy Development Corp.) I guess they were quite happy with the experience of the Philippine companies in Chile,” said Almendras.
On the Philippines’ needs, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the Philippines was looking to adopt the best practices of Chile in taxing its mining industry.
“Chile is the world’s largest exporter of copper and a few years ago they revised the scheme of taxation of their mining industry that is one that recognizes the volatility of mining prices. So this is one that we would like to study,” said Purisima.
Aquino signed last July Executive Order 79 to implement sweeping reforms in mining laws, to include tougher implementation of a ban on mining at 78 sites, a moratorium on the grant of mining permits, and a bigger government share of mining profits.
Purisima said Chile has already sent a few of its technical advisers to the Philippines to help the Bureau of Internal Revenue, which has been hard pressed to meet its revenue collection goals in the last two years.
“The President of Chile also invited the President to visit Chile as part of furthering our bilateral relationships. He also noted that he’s been to the Philippines three times as a private sector person and that he enjoyed his visits,” said Purisima.
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