• CHERYL G. CRUZ
Bacolod Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez said there is need for proper tax collection, instead of increasing rates, as he noted the mushrooming economic activities around the city.
“Before we touch our local rates, let us make sure that we collect properly,” Benitez said in his regular press conference this morning, Nov. 20. “We can really generate the revenues, ara lang na da, wala lang na striktuhan pangolekta.”
City Treasurer Arlene Memoria said they have collected, as of October, 94 percent of this year’s local revenue target.
Actual collection reached over P1.376 billion, out of the estimated P1.465 billion for 2023.
Local revenue sources include real property tax with P350.169 million collection; business tax, P493.677 million; other taxes, P84.162 million; regulatory fees, P117.342 million; service charges, P203.505 million; and other receipts, P127.781 million.
Actual collection from real property and business taxes was at 63.67 percent and 82.28 percent, respectively, while total collection for other local revenue sources already hit between 138 percent and 192 percent, data from the City Treasurer’s Office showed.
The city is growing, the mayor said. “As part of this growth, we should be able to capture the revenues.”
Benitez urged businessmen to pay their taxes properly, even as he asked the City Legal Office to assist those who have not fully complied with the requirements in securing a business permit.
He noted that, of around 21,000 applicants, only about 17,000 were issued business permits. “There is a huge number of business establishments na wala permits for several reasons, like complying with fire and OBO requirements. I asked the city legal to assist, and make it easier for them to apply for business permit.”
He said he also wants to know the reasons why there were about 4,000 that did not continue applying for business permit. “Let’s go out of our way to assist them.”
Benitez, in his budget message pushing for a P3.6 billion city budget for 2024, said that compared to the previous year, “there is currently a noticeable growth in our Local Sources at the rate of 17 percent, or an increase of P239,078,582”.
This year’s budget is P3.250 billion.
“Investment-wise, we have experienced a surge in the number of business registrations and business license renewals; tourism-wise, we have bounced back after the unprecedented success of the return of the MassKara Festival and other cultural events,” the mayor said, adding that Bacolod has regained its status as a hotbed for meetings, conventions, conferences, and infrastructure investment. | CGC with reports from PNA