Rama says City Hall will look for taxable assets, like idle lands, gaming facilities-A A +A
Saturday, October 9, 2010
EVEN if Cebu City Hall has to fund numerous infrastructure projects and health services, it will not raise tax rates and will instead look for taxable assets and activities that are not being taxed at present, Mayor Michael Rama said.
Rama said he will continue all the priority projects of the City started during his first 100 days in office, among them the city-wide asphalting of roads, drainage projects, improving the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), garbage collection and improving traffic.
To fund these, the City will have to intensify its tax collection efforts and identify new services, activities and assets of private individuals that the City can impose taxes on.
“If you have not yet completely taken advantage of what you have, then go to the bottom, unearth what is being covered and discover what ought to be discovered because along the way, you will be able to arrive at a direction that you don't have to increase taxes, you only have to discover what is to be taxable,” he said.
Once these services and assets are identified, Rama said the City Council would have to pass an ordinance that will authorize the collection of these taxes.
“Let’s look for activities that perhaps have been earning and earning and are not paying (taxes) because that has to be covered by tax. Look at areas where collection has not been efficiently and religiously done. And let’s make the people happy by giving them services because when they are happy, taxes will just pour in, as well as donations from the private sector,” he continued.
City Councilor Jose Daluz III, chairman of the City Council committee on budget and finance, said they are looking at the possibility of imposing taxes on idle lands and electronic gaming facilities operating in the city.
Although the City is already collecting real property taxes from the land owners, he said the Local Government Code authorizes the City to impose additional taxes on owners of idle lands.
“We have to enforce the Idle Lands Tax Ordinance because it will spur economic activity. We can collect additional taxes from landowners if the property is idle, and that is good because it pressures the owner to make use of their property so there can be economic activities,” said Daluz, adding it would generate more business taxes.
These are just some of the suggestions that surfaced after Rama bared his administration’s achievements during their first 100 days in office, and what they intend to do after the 100 days.
Rama announced the P900-million supplemental budget he will propose next week will allow them to continue the services and projects his administration started, including the massive “asphalt storm.”
He also intends to implement the comprehensive drainage plan in the next 100 days. This has been pending for more than five years.
In his news conference, Rama said the City will also be more aggressive in restoring the three-meter easement on riverbanks and creeks in preparation for floods and landslides.
To avoid any demolition, the City will ask informal settlers in riverbanks to evacuate voluntarily, but he said the City also cannot provide relocation sites, and will only do so on a case-to-case basis.
Rama presented to the City Council yesterday his report on what the City has achieved in his first 100 days, which city councilors lauded.
He counts the City’s private-public partnership program as one of their most important achievements, since it resulted in volunteerism among private individuals to address the City’s problems.
But for Councilors Alvin Dizon and Noel Wenceslao, City Hall will have to do more, especially in prioritizing the areas of health and housing for the poor.
“We need to empower our barangay health workers and equip our health centers so we can decongest CCMC (Cebu City Medical Center) so that the people in the upland barangays will not have to go all the way to CCMC to avail themselves of medical services. We have to improve the facilities of the health centers,” Dizon said.
Wenceslao specifically pushed for the rehabilitation of the Guba Community Hospital, so mountain barangay residents do not have to travel when they need to be hospitalized.
Rama’s report on his administration’s accomplishments included:
l Road maintenance, concreting and widening, and riprapping;
l Upgrade of birthing stations, rehabilitation of CCMC and City Health Department Out-Patient Department;
l Additional sodium street lamps were installed, replacement of damaged lamps;
l Clean-up of waterways, setting up of temporary material recovery facilities in nine strategic areas
l Clearing of vendors in sidewalks and other traffic obstruction by Citom;
l Flood control projects, such as desilting and dredging of waterways.
He also reported that they have strengthened programs in improving the performance of city employees.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 09, 2010.