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‘Unthinkable magnitude of greed’: Gov’t practically paying for all of Consunjis’ coal operations

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Senator Joel Villanueva blasted the Consunji family for their “unthinkable magnitude of greed” in moving heaven and earth just to continue enjoying their decades-long tax perks with a last-minute amendment to the coal tax hike being pushed in Congress.
In a privilege speech, Villanueva could not believe that the Consunjis would work to avoid paying P800 million a year from the coal tax or less than a third of what Semirara’s P2.7 billion income tax perks last year.

The bicam-approved final version of the tax reform measure jacked up the coal excise tax rate from P10 per metric ton to P50 per MT in the first year of implenentati on, P100 in the second year, and P150 in the third and succeeding years. The Consunjis, however, managed to convince Congress toir retain Semirara’s tax exemption.

“With this tax holiday, the company paid less income tax than it is required under the tax code, and was able to save P10.7 billion pesos in income tax expense over the last five years under Presidential Decree 972 issued in 1976.

“Mr. President, kung tutuusin, halos sinasagot ng publiko lahat ng gastusin ng kumpanyang ito – mula sweldo ng mga manggagawa, bayad sa kuryente at tubig, maging bonuses ng mga board members nila at ilan sa kanilang mga bayarin sa gobyerno,” Villanueva said.

“In fact, even their expenses on corporate income tax – the only tax they are required to pay had they not availed the income tax holiday- may also be deducted from the coal revenues as part of their 90 percent recoverable costs,” he added.

From the remaining 10 percent, Semirara is further entitled to a so-called three percent special allowance, and a four percent basic fee.

“We, the inherent owners of the natural resources which this company exploits, are left with a share as small as three after we generously covered their expenses and assured profits. Sa liit ng nakukuha natin, para na ho tayong nanlilimos ng parte natin sa sarili nating likas-yaman,” Villanueva said.

He noted that Semirara dominates the industry, accounting for more than 95 percent of national production.

“With this, the company practically stands as the monopoly on local coal in the country. I urge the Senate to review, scrutinize, and rationalize all the incentives granted to the local mining industry to put an end to this unthinkable magnitude of greed,” Villanueva said.