MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mining companies are among biggest tax evaders

Published by MAC on 2005-06-09

Mining companies are among biggest tax evaders

Yeheey News

June 9, 2005

Mining companies are among the most favored in terms of enjoying liberal tax exemptions and holidays under Republic Act 7942 or the Mining Law of 1995 and the Omnibus Investments Code.

Yet that does not prevent them from defrauding the government of their tax obligations as the Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan-PNE), a militant environmental organization, exposed that mining companies are one of the biggest tax evaders in a picket protest in front of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Dr. Orencio Pusing, president of the Aroroy Goldpanners and Processors Cooperative, an organization of small-scale miners in Aroroy Masbate, and former vice mayor of the same municipality in Masbate, urged the BIR to look in the tax records of Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corporation (ACMDC). He charged that since 1991, the company has not paid the local and national government realty and excise taxes amounting to P15,968,364.89 and P82,331,316.16, respectively.

Atlas used to operate a gold mine in Aroroy, Masbate. The project has been passed to Canadian-backed Filminera Resources Corporation (FRC) after passing to Base Metals Corp. However, marginalized small-scale miners in Aroroy believe FRC is merely fronting for Atlas in order to free the latter of its tax responsibilities to the local and national government.

Last April 28 President Arroyo visited the Atlas mining area in Cebu province. The re-opening of Atlas copper mining in Toledo, Cebu is one of the priority projects of the Arroyo government under its mining revitalization program.

According to Kalikasan-PNE, Marcopper-Placer Dome also still owes P420 million in unpaid realty taxes to the local government of Marinduque.

These cases show how lenient the national government is to big foreign mining companies. Aside from allowing these companies to legally plunder our mineral resources and to devastate our environment, the government awards these companies six-year tax holidays, duty-free importation and other economic incentives, and promotes their mining projects.

This contrasts sharply with how the government imposes regressive taxes on ordinary taxpayers, like the controversial expanded value added tax.

Instead of focusing on movie personalities as well as the ordinary public, the BIR should train its guns on the biggest tax cheats among large mining companies.

By: Clemente Bautista
Kalikasan Peoples' Network for the Environment

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