Taxes finally paid

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Monday, May 26, 2014


LUCK is with Lapu-Lapu City in the sense that it has just received the first installment of what it has demanded for years. Although it took some time for Mayor Paz Radaza to assert the city’s right to collect real property taxes from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA), she finally succeeded.

The amount in taxes has reached P1.8 billion. A first installment of P88 million has been given, which is great for a developing Lapu-Lapu.

The city mayor, a seasoned and decisive civil servant, plans to use part of the amount for the city’s Special Education Fund. Classrooms will be built to cope with the steady increase in student population.

This development came after government recently received a premium of P14.4 billion from the group that won the contract to upgrade and operate the Mactan airport. What should really be considered as significant here is the fact that the city mayor has managed to achieve an utmost good for her city.

Radaza said she is “very thankful to the MCIAA Board for understanding our situation,” meaning the matter of the city’s need for funds to support its development programs.

MCIAA has proposed to pay the “overdue taxes in tranches, with the next payment likely to come next month.” The payment of P88 million was made late last week.

As it is, the MCIAA will pay for the real property taxes that are not included in a pending case with the Supreme Court (SC). The high court reportedly has still to decide whether the MCIAA still has liabilities on properties that were used as airport runway and taxiway.

Payment for these liabilities is, however, “without prejudice to the existing case (still) with the SC,” the mayor reiterated.

Earlier, the City Hall executive department had developed a payment scheme for the overdue taxes of the MCIAA. But it seems that Mayor Radaza will also have to give way to some of the problems that the MCIAA is facing at the moment regarding its own operation with what may be considered as a “managing partner,” the consortium that won the bidding to upgrade the airport’s facilities.

These include the matter of waiving the tax penalties that were earlier incurred under a proposed memorandum of agreement (MOA) that the city council had opposed. In the MOA, the MCIAA will pay the taxes for properties used wholly for commercial purposes.

On the other hand, the city is willing to waive tax penalties provided the MCIAA extends financial assistance to it for infrastructure projects with amounts not less than those of the penalties.

It is clear here that Mayor Radaza, not to be out-done in behalf of the city, is bargaining on a quid pro quo basis. But then, that to me appears to be the measure of a true local executive.

The way Lapu-Lapu City is faring as a developing community in the Central region of the Visayas, it is a forthcoming domestic development model.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 27, 2014.

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