Foreign firm owes Vizcaya P2B in taxes

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BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: The provincial government here has sought assistance from national government agencies for the collection of P2 billion in taxes from an American firm operating a hydroelectric plant.

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Gov. Ruth Padilla said the California-based Casecnan Water and Energy Company (CWEC) that operates the Casecnan Multi-Purpose Irrigation and Power Project (CMIPP) in Alfonso Castaneda town continues to defy the demand to pay its taxes.

Padilla said CWEC’s unpaid real property tax ballooned to more than P2 billion which they can be used to pay for the salaries of teachers and other obligations.

Pressed to pay their taxes due, the firm is invoking Malacañang Executive Order (EO) 173 that temporarily stops power producing companies from paying taxes to their host LGU. EO 173 either reduced the value or condoned the non-payment of real property tax by power firms.

“We are appealing and trying very hard to bring this matter to concerned agencies in order to come up with a win-win solution,” Padilla said.

She said more than 300 public school teachers have been affected from the non-payment of CWEC of its local taxes.

“Part of what we have been collecting from CWEC from it real property taxes goes to Special Education Fund [SEF] utilized to pay the salaries of additional teachers in the province,” Padilla said.

She said the province has been faring well in its delivery of quality education with funding from SEF sourced from collected payments of real property taxes by CWEC in the previous years.

“We were able to fill in the teacher-pupil gap because of this but with the problem at hand, we hope that the Department of Education will extend its assistance to continue providing education to the less privileged,” Padilla said.

The giant $580-million CMIPP is a hydroelectric facility composed of two impounding dams and a power plant, connected by a pair of 26-kilometer tunnels built under the Ramos administration to address the power crisis during the 1990s.

The CMIPP now diverts irrigation waters from Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces to at least 200 hectares of farmlands in Central Luzon and western parts of Pangasinan.

The project also provides some 100 megawatts of electricity to augment the increasing power requirements of the Luzon grid.

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