Business groups seek clearer mining policy
SEVERAL BUSINESS groups have consolidated their position on proposed reforms for the mining industry, hoping that the government will clear up gray and conflicting areas in the state’s mining policy.
The business groups said the Philippine government must bring an end to provincial ordinances that conflict with national law, step up the mining industry’s growth without additional tax impositions, and resolve issues surrounding small-scale mining activities.
The groups include Philippines Australia Business Council, Australia Philippines Business Council, Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines.
The much publicized ban on open-pit mining in some localities, and the general ban on mining in some areas caused a slowdown on major projects. As a result, expenditure flows have been shelved, with some investors looking beyond the Philippines for mining investments, the groups said in a joint statement.
The business groups also questioned the proposal, submitted to the Office of the President, to increase mining revenue by declaring current mining operations and those in advanced stages of development as mineral reservations.
According to the businessmen, the proposal to convert areas into mineral reservations in order to collect an additional five percent royalty on top of the two percent excise tax has caused uncertainty, confusion, and raised the concern of local and foreign investors.
“It will be important for the Philippines to issue a clear statement on how the country intends to intensify the mining industry’s growth as one of the priority industries by way of establishing a stable investment environment without any additional tax imposition,” the groups said.
At the same time, the proliferation of small-scale mining operators, whose permits are granted by provincial officials, has alarmed companies that comply with health, safety and environmental rules and regulations, the groups said.
“Regulation, control and supervision of small-scale mining should be with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) until local government units (LGUs) have attained the technical competence to deal with mining operations, as well as the fiscal, health and environmental issues facing the mining industry,” they said.
The Chamber of Mines, together with the country’s foreign mining investors, have endorsed the implementation of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative to stamp out graft and corruption and improve transparency in permit issuances and tax payments.
There is a need to explore social and legal platforms as to how responsible mineral development can interface with indigenous peoples, the groups said.
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