Power play: Senators blast Consunjis’ sneaky move to exempt Semirara from higher coal taxes
Senators are up in arms over a last-minute move to grant the Consunji family with a multi-billion peso tax break in the on-going bicameral conference committee debate on imposing higher taxes on coal.
Senators were surprised that the House contingent in the bicameral conference committee decided to exempt Semirara Coal Corp. of the Consunji family from the imposition of higher taxes proposed by the upper chamber on coal.
The Senate panel stood its ground, refusing to agree to the scrapping of the said excise tax on locally-produced coal as it was clearly meant to favor only the Consunjis and Semirara, the country’s largest coal producer.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, who sought for the repeal of a presidential decree to allow the imposition of excise tax on locally-produced coal, was vocal in expressing his disgust over the moves taken by the lower house contingent.
“You know these guys, itong company na ito, kaya ako naiinis (kasi) baka sabihin kami pa ‘tong inaayos nung kumpanya, may tax holiday na sila despite the fact na wala silang binabayaran, exempted sila,” he said.
“Nakakuha pa sila sa Board of Investment ng tax holiday from September 2008 to 2014. Inextend pa ito hanggang 2016 last year. So yung na-save nitong kumpanya na ito from 2012 to 2016 for the last five years is already P10.7 billion,” said Villanueva.
The House eventually relented and agreed to apply the excise tax to both imported and domestic coal. But the current value-added tax (VAT) exemption of domestic coal would stay.
The TRAIN bill finalized by Congress raised the coal excise tax rate from the current P10 per metric ton to P50 per metric ton in the first year of implementation, P100 in the second year, and P150 in the third and succeeding years.
The P10 rate has been in place since 1988, while local coal producers have been exempted from paying the tax all the way back to 1976