Baguio City sustains heavy economic loss due COVID-19 pandemic

BAGUIO CITY – The City Treasurer Office here presented an expectedly bleak picture of the city’s economic performance for the past five months with the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic when most business activities ground to a halt.

The Baguio City hall (Zaldy Comanda/ MANILA BULLETIN)

In his report to Mayor Benjamin Magalong, City Treasurer Officer Alex Cabarrubias said the city incurred an actual total loss in income amounting to P126,496,132.44 for the period.

Cabarrubias said, the largest of these revenue losses was P14,792,748.76 at the Philippine Export Processing Zone Authority (PEZA), while the other losses came from losses realized from penalties, market rental, night market, amusement tax, parks entrance fees, lot rentals, market entrance fees, other rentals and hotel occupancy that were not collected.

The city’s estimated income for this year is P2.03 billion, while actual collections as of August 18 totalled P1,324,043,511.66.

He said the estimated collectibles for September to December this year was P705,956,488.34, divided into local revenue of P393,526,485.74 and the city’s Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) from the national government totalling P312,430,002.60.

Cabarrubias warned that with the ongoing pandemic and most local businesses remaining shuttered, only about 40 percent of the city’s estimated local revenue collections for the coming months is expected to be collected.

An even worse scenario, he said, was if the national government reneges on its IRA obligations to the city.

Adding to the city’s income woes, was the continued closure of its borders to tourists as a measure in preventing the spread of the virus. As the country’s Summer Capital, the tourism sector contributes a significant amount annually to the city’s coffers.

Cabarrubias suggested that with the dire outlook of the local economy, the city must collectively “tighten its belt” and spend only on project that are of the utmost priority and most needed.