Capitol gives water districts five days to settle P4-M tax liabilities

Six water districts in Catanduanes has been given five days to pay a total of P4.47 million in franchise tax liabilities to the provincial government dating back to 2013.

According to a source at the Unified Catanduanes Water Districts Association (UCWDA), Provincial Treasurer Marilou Vargas sent final notices on the province’s demand to the water districts of Virac, San Andres, Viga, Bato, Pandan and Baras the other week.

The letters stated that despite notices served and in consideration of the length of time that has elapsed, the franchise tax liabilities inclusive of interest and surcharges have remained unsettled.

“In view hereof, we would like to inform you that we are giving you a LAST OPPORTUNITY to make the necessary settlement of the abovementioned franchise tax liability covering the period from CY 2013 up to CY 2021 within five (5) days from receipt of this NOTICE,” the treasurer said in the letter to VIWAD Board of Directors chairperson Nelia Tadoy.

It warned that pursuant to the Local Government Code of 1991, unless the immediate settlement of the tax obligation is effected, the PTO would be constrained to effect the civil remedies under Sec. 174 of the LGC and Section 7.N.02 of Provincial Ordinance No. 005-2012, by enforcing the collection through distraint and levy or by judicial action.

Under this action, the provincial government could either seize the water districts’ properties, including its bank deposits and real properties, to pay for the liability, or file a civil or criminal action against the water firms.

The Virac Water District reportedly owes the provincial government a total of P2.67 million in franchise taxes, interest and surcharges over a nine-year period.

The general manager, Gabriel Tejerero, has cited the delay in the Local Water Utilities Administration’s approval of its water rate increase okayed by the board and concessionaires in 2020.

VIWAD management has repeatedly appealed to the province and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for a moratorium or at least the condonation of the surcharges but these have been rejected for lack of merit.

The liabilities of the other six water districts are as follows: San Andres WD, P276,719.22; Viga WD, P289,608.82; Bato WD, P701,051.21; Pandan WD, P326,334.19; and, Baras WD, P203,520.87.

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