FOR the sixth consecutive year, Cebu has emerged as the richest province in the country.
The Commission on Audit (COA), in its 2019 Annual Financial Report on local government units (LGUs), reported that Cebu has assets amounting to P203.9 billion.
The amount is 471.9 percent higher compared to the Province’s assets in 2018 worth P35.65 billion.
Batangas ranked second with P20.79 billion worth of assets followed by Rizal with P20.28 billion.
Those who made it to the list included Davao de Oro (4th) with P20.10 billion; Bukidnon (5th) with P18.29 billion; Surigao del Norte (6th) with P16.68 billion; Negros Occidental (7th) with P15.90 billion; Leyte (8th) with P13.54 billion; Palawan (9th) with P13.04 billion and Iloilo (10th) with P13.03 billion.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said her decision to reappraise the value of Province-owned real estate properties was one of the biggest contributors why assets grew exponentially.
“When I took over on July 1, I asked the Provincial Assessor’s Office to reassess all of our properties in accordance with the present value. The last time we reappraised our properties was in 2008. We have a lot of real estate properties in Cebu City where their value has quadrupled over the years,” Garcia said.
Capitol’s intensive collection of fees, especially for regulatory and terminal fees, among others, also contributed to the increase, Garcia said.
Garcia said around P196 billion worth of assets are Province-owned real estate properties while P7.7 billion are in cash.
“Well, it’s a nice title, but that’s as far as it goes unless the people really feel the impact of being the richest province in the country. So, for me, I will not bask in that glory because it presents an even heavier challenge to make each and every Cebuano realize that their lives are better because Cebu is rich,” Garcia said.
Garcia said the challenge would be to accomplish much, especially in infrastructure, and in spurring economic activity that has been devastated by the Covid-19.
In terms of cities, the COA report ranked Cebu City as the fifth richest in the Philippines with total assets of P34.71 billion — up by P910 million compared to the P33.8 billion in 2018.
But while Cebu City emerged as the fifth richest city in the country, it is also the third city with the highest liabilities at P16.2 billion.
Cebu City’s net assets amounted to P18.5 billion — double its P9.38 billion net assets in 2018.
Makati City maintained its status as the richest city in the country with total assets of P233.7 billion.
The cities of Quezon, Manila, and Pasig also remained in the top five with P96.4 billion, P64.8 billion, and P45.6 billion worth of assets, respectively.
The other Top 10 cities with the biggest total assets are Mandaue City (P32.1 billion); Taguig City (P29 billion); Caloocan City (P20.5 billion); Pasay City (P19.79 billion); and Davao City (P19.78 billion).
Meanwhile, the Cebu City government is now richer by P332 million due to its tax amnesty program.
The Cebu City Treasurer’s Office collected P242 million in real property taxes (RPT) and about P90 million in business taxes.
Under the Tax Amnesty Ordinance, delinquent taxpayers had two options — to pay the principal amount of their tax dues in full before Dec. 15, 2020 without penalties, or pay in staggered amounts within one year and pay only 10 percent of the total penalties.
Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, who chairs the finance committee, said most taxpayers took advantage of the zero percent interest.
Garcia said the tax collected is a big help to the City, considering that the business tax collection will possibly be lower this year because of the economic effects of the Covid-19. / ANV / JKV, JJL