CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Porac Quarry Association (PQA) has agreed to suspend its collection of an additional P200 fee on trucks that haul sand and gravel from the town, in effect ruling out a price increase of the commodity valued in the construction industry following a request from Vice-Governor Dennis Pineda and the Pampanga Provincial Board.
"We accede to the appeal of the honorable vice-governor and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board) to hold the collection of P200 in the meantime," Antonio Ayson, PQA director, announced when the hearing on the matter resumed at Max's Restaurant in Villa del Sol here on Friday.
As a result of its commitment to the board, the PQA would only collect a fee of "less than P200," the rate before September 12, on trucks extracting sand in legitimate quarry sites in Porac.
Norman Bengco, PQA president, said the additional P200 would have been spent on the maintenance of heavy equipment used in quarry sites such as loaders.
"[The fee] is not passed on end-users," Bengco assured the board.
Rudilyn Garcia, president of Porac Quarry Truckers, welcomed the decision of PQA and thanked Vice-Governor Pineda and the board for resolving the matter.
The PQA also heeded the recommendation of Board Member Rosve Henson to convene a committee that will determine the fair market value of per cubic meter of sand, gravel and other quarry resources as basis for setting of sand tax by the provincial government and fees by quarry associations.
The provincial government collects from truckers P150 in sand tax, P250 in administrative fee and P30 for the use of weighing scales. The P150 is distributed as revenue on a 30-30-40 percent sharing by the province, towns/cities and barangays.
Ayson suggested that in determining the value of sand, the committee should care to consider the apparent diminishing supply of sand in Porac and restrictions imposed by the Department of Public Works and Highways on quarry activities two kilometers from the Porac Bridge and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.
Vice-Governor Pineda, the board's presiding officer, cautioned quarry operators from increasing fees because this would drive the fair market value of minerals in the province.
"In that event [of price increase], the board would have to intervene either to regulate the price [for sand and minerals used in public infrastructure projects] or set higher sand tax," the vice-governor explained, referring to policies set in Tax Ordinance Number 4 Series of 2011 that revised the provincial revenue code.
Councilor Ludivico Muli of Porac said the municipal council would help monitor the compliance of PQA with the latter's commitment not to collect new fees.
PQA members face the risk of losing their quarry extraction permit should they be found collecting new fees.