Representatives of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industryand the Bacolod-Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. said they will come up with their counter-proposal to the city after meeting with the business sectors.
The businessmen said they will also appeal the case on the Tax Revenue Code with the Department of Justice that had denied for lack of merit their motion for reconsideration of its Order dated June 15, 2012, for violation of the rule of non-forum shopping.
BFCCCI president Ben Ortega said they hope the dialog with the city officials will be concluded before the year ends.
He said the city has proposed 50 percent of 1 percent and they have proposed a reduction by 40 percent of 1 percent with rebates. But during their last meeting on August 22, the city had a new proposal where it offered to reduce the rates further but cannot give them rebates, he added.
Ortega said that, although they believe that the city is sincere in its negotiation with them, it should also understand the contribution of the business sector to its economic growth, including the employment generation that helped pump-prime the local economy.
He said the imposition of high tax rates will not be good for the business sector, especially with the rising cost of electricity, fuel and other commodities.
He also claimed that some businesses have closed down and some have transferred, but could not provide figures.
“We will not fight City Hall but we will fight during the elections,” Ortega said.
When asked to explain what he means, Ortega said they will mark the officials supporting the New Tax Code during election day.
He said they will continue to pay their taxes but they have another alternative to express their sentiments by staging a rally. He denied that there is politics involved.
Asked for comment on the threat of Ortega, Leonardia said “That is unfortunate. For us, this is not about politics and we hope they will not take this as political, since this was motivated by what we believe was best for the city, and considering that the present Tax Code is now 19 years old.”
Under the circumstances, they think the adjustment was a necessity, he said. He also pointed out that it is not his administration that will benefit from the new tax code, this is for the future of the city.
Leonardia said their legal staff had studied the rates very well and they believe everything was done according to the rules and regulations.
He said he was surprised to know that they called a press conference yesterday, because there are ongoing negotiations which they had found very open and cordial.
“How I wish these matters could have been threshed out among themselves. It would be more effective and productive if they engage in private negotiations, than having debates on the merits with the media,” Leonardia said.
Leonardia said he hopes they can go back to the table and still avail of very friendly negotiation and with very positive attitudes.
He believes that some business sectors were amenable to their proposal, and they hope they can find a solution soon, he said.
“I again appeal to our businessmen to take the interest of the city as a priority,” Leonardia said.
Meanwhile, MBCCI president Frank Carbon said they will contest the recent decision issuedby DOJ hearing officer Eduardo Abante Jr. since their lawyers say they have not violated the rule of non-forum shopping.
Carbon said that while they plan to pursue the case with the DOJ, they will continue the negotiation with the city officials to reach a win-win solution.
He said that during their meeting on August 22, the city presented another proposal or amendment to the Tax Code to further reduce the tax rate but without tax relief or rebate for 2012.
Carbon said they will again consult business sectors like the hospitals, hotels, banks, retailers, among others, and to come up with a counter offer for the city.*CGS