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SUPPORT FOR TRAIN

Higher tax on coal shows gov’t concern for environment, groups say

ILOILO CITY—Groups opposing the operation of coal-fired power plants voiced support for the passage of a measure imposing a higher tax on coal and called on the government to stop the construction of more plants using dirty fuel in the country.

Members of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), Sanlakas-Iloilo, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) and Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod staged a picket at Plazoletagay, a main intersection here, on Tuesday to support the higher tax on coal under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN).

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The congressional bicameral conference committee approved the imposition of a P50 per metric ton tax on coal starting next year, P100 in 2019 and P150 in 2020 under TRAIN. The current rate is P10 per metric ton, which has been in effect for more than 30 years.

“We welcome the passage of the coal tax. At last, a 1,400-times increase of the almost 40-year-old insignificant tax has been laid. This is a positive step toward obligating the coal companies and those who profit on the climate crisis from the destruction they have caused on communities, the environment and climate,” Ian Rivera, PMCJ national coordinator, said in a statement.

Rivera said passing the new tax measure was proof of the government’s concern for climate-related issues and the impact of coal on the environment, even if the tax increase would not outweigh the “gravity of the destruction and impact on climate that burning coal has caused.”

“The current tax rate … is like an incentive for coal companies to continue destroying the environment and climate,” said Jun Ano of BMP-Western Visayas.

The groups promised to oppose moves to pass on the increased coal taxes to consumers.

Iloilo hosts coal-fired power plants in Barangay Ingore in La Paz District in Iloilo City operated by Panay Energy Development Corp. and at Barangay Nipa in Concepcion town, which is operated by Palm Concepcion Power Corp.

These supply the bulk of power in Western Visayas region and other areas.

Semirara Mining and Power Corp. on Semirara Island in Caluya town in Antique province is the country’s largest producer of coal.

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TAGS: coal-fired power plants, higher tax on coal, Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN)
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