• N. Vizcaya denies permit for US firm

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    ALFONSO CASTAÑEDA, Nueva Vizcaya: At least four barangay local governments, hosting an American power and irrigation firm here, have moved to stop the issuance of a business permit for the operation of the multi-million Casecnan Multi-Purpose Irrigation and Power Project (CMIPP).

    The move came after the California Energy Casecnan Water and Energy Company (CECWEC), owner and operator of CMIPP, reportedly refused to pay its taxes by citing Executive Order 173 issued by the Aquino Administration.

    The issuance of EO 173 reportedly either reduced the value or condoned the non-payment of real property tax (RPT) by power generation facilities under the Independent Power Producers (IPP). 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 during the Ramos administration to address the power crisis during the 1990s.

    The CMIPP now diverts irrigation waters from Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces for irrigation of farmlands and to augment power requirements in Central Luzon.

    Village officials of Barangays Abuyo, Lipuga, Pelaway and Cawayan and the municipal government here said they have jointly moved to freeze the issuance of business permits to CMIPP unless they pay their taxes due amounting to P1.78 billion to the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya.

    Board Member Efren Quiben said the Municipal Council of Alfonso Castañeda town has approved a resolution prohibiting the issuance of a business permit to the US-based energy and irrigation company.

    The said resolution conveyed a strong stand claiming that CECWEC cannot invoke and is not even affected by EO 173 since it is a not a government-owned or -controlled corporation.

    In addition, Quiben said the provincial board also passed Resolution No. 2015-1726 which was submitted to President Benigno Aquino 3rd citing the negative effects of EO 173 which will further deprive local governments of earnings from business locators in their areas.

    “The EO has massacred all local governments. It is happening in our province after CECWEC abandoned its earlier agreement with the provincial government to do a staggered settlement of the P1.78 billion RPT arrears,” Quiben said.

    He added that because of the Order, Nueva Vizcaya now stands to repay the company some P1.2 billion in collected taxes instead of receiving the collectible tax amounts.

    Quiben worries that host town Alfonso Castañeda will be demoted from a first class municipality to its former sixth class standing, thus reducing the salaries and benefits of all government employees.

    “While we recognize and understand the national government is solving the present energy crisis, the Aquino administration should also understand that its issuance of a tax reduction and condonation of foreign multi-million companies of their taxes like CECWEC is cutting off the lifeblood needed for a local government to exist,” Quiben said.

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