Zamora verifying P736M in undercollected taxes
MANILA, Philippines — San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora announced on Wednesday that he had initiated a probe into the previous administration’s failure to collect over P736 million in taxes in 2017 and 2018, as revealed in the annual report of the Commission on Audit (COA).
“We would like to assure our beloved San Juaneños that we are already looking into this and that we have already launched an investigation to find out those who are directly responsible for the gross under collection,” Zamora said in a statement.
He also vowed not to raise taxes even as the city was exploring ways to raise revenues to pay off the nearly P1-billion debt inherited from former Mayor Guia Gomez.
Zamora said the COA findings were no surprise, adding that he was “perplexed to discover the questionably low revenue in real property tax and business tax” after he and his team reviewed the previous administration’s documents.
Although San Juan is Metro Manila’s smallest city, it has leveraged its location at the heart of the capital to attract a steady stream of business.
Plugging the leaks
“We are plugging the leaks in the current processes to improve our collection efficiency to avoid the perennial budget deficit that unfortunately has been the norm in our city for the previous years,” Zamora said.
The COA report came on the heels of a somber flag-raising ceremony at city hall on Monday, during which Zamora revealed the nearly P1-billion debt due to the construction of the new city hall and expansion of San Juan Medical Center.
Zamora added that the city would likely end the year with a P100-million deficit, as the vast majority of the P1.3 billion left by Gomez had already been allocated for other expenses.
Even before the release of the COA report, Zamora told reporters he would collect taxes more efficiently and aggressively to allow San Juan to rebound from its financial woes.
The COA said in its report that previous city officials led by Gomez failed to examine the books of accounts of the city’s eight biggest businesses, leading to an under collection of P736.105 million in taxes.
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