OceanaGold vows to pay taxes

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BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya: OceanaGold, an Australian mining firm operating in Northern Luzon, gave assurances that it will pay taxes as soon as the Regional Trial Court settles the issue on which local government unit should it be paid to.

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It appeared that the governments of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces have both sent notices of tax delinquency on the mining firm. The amount has reportedly grown from P29 million in 2013 to 91 million in 2014, owing to the penalties and sur-charges for non-payment.

But in a statement, Country Director Bradley Norman said OceanaGold pays “dutifully and in full its tax obligations to the province of Nueva Vizcaya, and to all other government entities it is obligated to do as may be directed by the court.”

Norman added that he wanted to correct the “misinformation” carried by a Manila-based daily on OceanaGold’s supposed unsettled tax obligation with Nueva Vizcaya.

“This is a misimpression arising from the fact that the issue of where to pay is uncertain at the moment and is yet to be decided by the court. Both Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces have sent OceanaGold real property tax assessments. We are left with th e dilemma of who to pay our taxes to,” Norman explained.

He also said that an interpleader case remains pending before the Regional Trial Court Branch 142 of Makati City. An interpleader is a suit pleaded between two parties to determine a claim or right to property held by a third party.

As soon as the court decides on the boundary-jurisdiction confusion between Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino, Norman assured that the real property taxes will be paid.

Norman stressed that his firm does not have any preference on which province to pay to as “both of them have equal rights to pursue what benefits they perceive as rightfully theirs.”

“Our only wish is that, as always, our taxes would benefit the whole region,” he said.

Norman assured the public that OceanaGold is ready, willing and able to pay all the applicable taxes and has, in fact, deposited with the court the full amount stated in the tax assessments for 2013.

It has also asked the court to authorize OceanaGold to deposit with the court the amount of real property taxes for the year 2014.

“It is the position of Ocea-naGold that an interim arrangement, fair and beneficial to all parties, be put in place while awaiting the decision of the court,” Norman said.

Recently, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) district office here said OceanaGold is among the supporters of Nueva Vizcaya’s 2013 tax campaign and was cited for topping the BIR’s list of taxpaying corporations in the province.

Maria Isabel Utit, BIR assistant revenue district officer in the region, said that OceanaGold is one of the highest tax-paying companies in Cagayan Valley.

“The collection of taxes from the mining industries in Nueva Vizcaya has contributed to a 45 percent growth rate in the collections of the province,” she said.

Norman said OceanaGold will continue to comply with other financial commitments like the release of the Social Development and Management Program fund from its mining operations to the seven villages within the province.

A Melbourne-based mining company, OceanaGold is the contractor of the multimillion peso Didipio gold–copper project which lies along the mountain border of Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces.

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