South Cotabato, power firm reach deal on unpaid taxes

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/21 December) – Power distribution utility South Cotabato I Electric Cooperative (Socoteco I) is set to sign an agreement with the provincial government of South Cotabato to facilitate the settlement of its unpaid real property taxes that already piled up to P41.27 million.

South Cotabato board member Ervin Luntao, chair of the provincial board’s ways and means committee, said the Socoteco I management has finally agreed to pay its entire pending tax obligations to the local government through a compromise deal.

Citing a letter from Socoteco I, he said the distribution utility signified to settle its entire real property tax arrearages of P41,271,295 within 60 to 90 days as part of the proposed agreement.

“The details of the compromise agreement are still being ironed out by our legal department but it will include some measures that will ensure the prompt payment of its future tax obligations,” Luntao said in a media forum in Koronadal City.

He said they expect the Provincial Legal Office to finalize the provisions of the proposed deal in time for the scheduled special session of the provincial board on December 27.

The official said his committee will work for the approval and endorsement of the draft deal for signing by early next month.

“We want this settled as soon as possible to expedite the one-time payment of Socoteco I’s arrearages within the first quarter of 2012,” he said.

Luntao noted that the settlement of Socoteco’s unpaid tax obligations will practically offset the P36-million cut on the province’s Internal Revenue Allotment or IRA share from the national government for next year.

The IRA of local government units represents 40 percent of the national internal revenue taxes collected in the third fiscal year before the current fiscal year.

The IRA sources are income tax, estate and donors’ tax, value-added tax, other percentage taxes, excise taxes, documentary stamp taxes, and such other taxes that may be imposed and collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

The provincial government has set some “belt-tightening” measures for next year following an official notice from the Department of Budget and Management that the province will only receive an IRA share of P751 million for 2012 or down by P36 million from this year’s P787.8-million allotment.

As a result, Provincial Treasurer Elvira Rafael said the local government decided to cut on its maintenance and other operating expenses next year, specifically provisions for office supplies, gasoline, oil and lubricants, electricity and water consumptions, among others. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)