By Chino S. Leyco
The inter-agency Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) agreed to conduct the second round of review of mining operations next year covering the other mining companies that were not part of the initially assessed.
In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said yesterday that the remanding 15 mining companies will also undergo “objective, science-based, and fact-finding” review in 2019.
The 15 mining firm were part of the 41 mines reviewed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) under former Secretary Regina Lopez in 2016.
MICC is eyeing to commission the same team of experts following their outputs on the review of the environmental, economic, social, legal and technical aspects of the first batch of 26 mining companies that Dominguez has described as “highly commendable.”
The 33rd meeting of the MICC on December 12 was co-chaired by Dominguez and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu.
During the same meeting, the MICC deferred a recommendation on the lifting of the moratorium on the issuance of new mineral agreements.
Executive Order (EO) 79 imposed a moratorium on new mineral agreements “until a legislation rationalizing existing revenue sharing schemes and mechanisms shall have taken effect”.
The Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law or Republic Act No. 10963 increased the excise tax on mineral products from 2.0 percent to 4.0 percent.
DENR queried whether the increase would be considered as having satisfied the condition of a legislation rationalizing the existing revenue sharing scheme.
However, the DOF clarified that TRAIN only increased the excise taxes and did not cover the implementation of a new fiscal regime for mining. The new fiscal regime proposed by the DOF covers other taxes and fees, such as royalty, windfall, profit, and incentives.
Given the clarification, the MICC resolved to defer a recommendation to lift the moratorium on new mineral agreements, stressing that a new revenue-sharing scheme and mechanisms for mining will be covered in the Package 2 plus of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP).
The House of Representatives provides for this new fiscal regime to ensure that the government gets its rightful share of the profits from mineral resources by approving House Bill No. 8400 on third and final reading. The bill was transmitted to the Senate on Nov. 13, 2018.
Further, the DENR was tasked to study the process of delineating the “go and no-go zones” for mining application identified under EO 79.