By Chino S. Leyco
The Department of Finance (DOF) proposed several “enhancements” to the three proposed measures pending in both chambers of Congress seeking to reform the country’s outdated real property valuation system.
While the DOF is throwing its support behind the bills, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III believes their proposed enhancements would generate more investments, further strengthen the property sector, and raise additional revenues for local government units (LGUs).
Currently, there are two bills in the House of Representatives that seek to reform the country’s real property valuation system—House Bill No. 2207 introduced by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and H.B. No. 68 by Albay Second District Representative Joey Salceda.
There is also Senate Bill No. 44 filed by Senator Panfilo Lacson.
Dominguez said the three legislative proposals are being supported by the DOF, citing they are aligned with the fundamental valuation reforms being pushed by the government in the real property sector.
But Dominguez suggested several enhancement measures to the three proposals to further strengthen the country’s real property valuation and taxation system.
In particular, the finance chief proposed that the DOF-attached Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) to become the lead agency in implementing the reforms in real property valuation, including the review of Schedule of Market Values (SMVs).
He also suggested that the Real Property Valuation Service (RPVS), which the three bills aiming to create, will be under the BLGF, while the the provision in SB 44 creating a Regional Technical Committee (RTC) on Real Property Valuation be removed.
Dominguez said doing away with the committee will streamline the review of the SMVs, because the same function will already be performed by the BLGF regional offices in coordination with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) regional offices.
The DOF has added a proposed provision which will bar an LGU from receiving any “conditional or performance-based grants or any form of credit financing from the national government” in cases when it fails to update its SMV.
Dominguez also recommended a provision requiring local assessors, other local officials and staff dealing with real property valuation to undergo training under the Philippine Tax Academy.
The finance chief also wants LGUs to automate their operations, adopt tax mapping technology, maintain software-enabled valuation system, undertake data cleansing and computerize their records management system.
On the provision pertaining to the preparation of the SMVs, he recommended that a section be included stating that the process should include the approval and publication of the SMVs by the Secretary of Finance.
Dominguez likewise proposed that the bills make clear that the publication of the local ordinance for the new and revised assessment levels and tax rates should be the responsibility of LGUs.
He also proposed that the Secretary of Finance shall no longer endorse qualified persons for the appointment of local assessors, considering that the law already requires assessors and assistant assessors to be licensed.