• Flak mounts against Makati BFP

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    THE Makati City government continues to receive complaints on the slow processing of Fire Code fees by the city’s Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

    Makati City Administrator Eleno Mendoza Jr. said more than 15,000 complaints have been made by taxpayers so far about the delays in the processing of their business permit applications owing to the slow process at the BFP counter.

    Because of this, the BFP has sought the help of the city government in the assessment and collection of Fire Code fees.

    But Mendoza said the request came too late because the said process had already been removed from City Hall’s computer system.

    “After insisting that they will directly collect Fire Code fees, BFP is now asking Makati to help but it is too late because we have deleted the process from our computer system,” he said.

    The city official said that before the period of tax payment and business permit renewal started this January, Makati offered its services but the BFP national office refused insisting that it can do it alone.

    Earlier, the city government, in line with its ‘one-stop-shop’ program, offered to assist in the assessment and collection of Fire Code fees for the renewal of business permits this year.

    In a letter to City Treasurer Nelia Barlis last November, City Fire Marshal Supt. Ricardo Perdigon relayed the response of the BFP national headquarters, which maintained that the authority to assess and collect Fire Code fees was vested solely on BFP.

    The BFP invoked Sections 13 and 13-A of RA 9514, the Fire Code of the Philippines of 2008 for refusing the assistance from the city government.

    On Monday, the city government announced that the City Council has authorized the extension of the deadline of payment of business and realty taxes to January 31 until 5 p.m. to accommodate clients unable to meet the January 20 deadline, including those being held up by the backlog in the BFP payment process.

    Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay of Makati had earlier assailed the BFP for posing added burden on business owners and investors by adding a layer of red tape, and also cited mounting complaints of harassment by fire inspectors that have not been acted upon by the BFP.

    Binay said that while Makati and other local government units have been taking steps to support the national government’s program to cut down processing time for business permits, the BFP, a national government agency, has been undermining these efforts.

    “What the BFP is doing is counterproductive and undermines the Aquino administration’s goal of making our country more attractive to investors. It is disappointing that one national government agency can throw a roadblock on our President’s program,” the mayor said.

    Under City Ordinance 2014-003, the period of payment for business and real estate taxes, licenses, fees and charges without penalty has been extended up to January 31, provided that applications for business permit are filed on or before January 25.

    Frontline offices at City Hall will be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on January 25, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on January 31, a holiday.

    Under the ordinance, realty taxpayers who pay the full amount will still be able to avail themselves of the 10-percent discount until January 31.

    Meanwhile, applications for renewal of business permits filed after January 25 are subject to a surcharge of 25 percent of total amount due, and additional two percent for every month of delay until the amount is fully settled.

    The Business Permits Office (BPO) at the ground floor of the new Makati City Hall Building II, along with other offices involved in business permits processing, shall be open from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., then resume work at 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m.

    For the past years, the city government has implemented measures to facilitate transactions with City Hall, especially during the renewal period.

    Taxpayers can access through the city’s website www.makati.gov.ph downloadable application forms and need not line up for business permit, individual Mayor’s permit, and locational clearance.

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