BY PET MELLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER
Yours truly have been long been absent from the La Paz Public Market for months to confirm it, but I agree with columnist Peter JImenea who says that some tenants already left the place as seen in stalls that shut down.
We have reasons to believe that especially after listening to other tenants of public markets in Iloilo City who bear the common burden of being squeezed to pay “goodwill money” to renew their lease contracts with city hall.
According to them, city hall last year amended the tax ordinance that increased their burden. Under the old ordinance, tenants were charged “franchise fee” fee only once. Thereafter, they pay monthly rents. Their yearly renewals are granted if they fully paid their monthly obligations. No good will fee was charged.
Only applicants, not existing tenants, were charged franchise fee. In contrast, the amended ordinance not only raised the rate but also, exacted “good will money” — P5,000, P10,000 or P15,000 — as if the tenants renewing their contracts were new applicants.
Should he make it this May 13 as city mayor, Rommel Ynion must look into the plight of public market vendors. These are small and medium entrepreneurs who give direct employment to at least three persons. Most of the stallholders got the space from their parents who in turn inherited the business from their respective elders, and so on.
The new tax rate is broad daylight robbery. It is extortion pure and simple. Business already went down after many of their clients were attracted by malls. It is not enough that the tax ordinance be reviewed, it must be repealed immediately.
Here is an example of the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg being butchered. Here is an example of a stupid and greedy person in such a hurry to get a lot of golden eggs that he cut open the belly of the bird, killing it in the process, to get all its eggs inside.
This is a big challenge for Rommel Ynion come May 13: remove the millstone of a tax ordinance from the shoulders of public market tenants. The present occupant, Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, is a hopeless case as he adamantly turns a deaf ear to the grumblings of public market people.
Iloilo City today is wallowing in the bog pit of debt triggered by huge borrowings to implement projects that are hardly felt by ordinary people. The city government borrowed P138 million (originally P123 million) in 2000 to erect 415 units of low cost housing units, all unfinished and substandard.
Next, the local government borrowed from the Land Bank to build a new city hall, starting with P415 million in 2006 and followed by more borrowings until it ended up to P820 million due to corruption and changes in design.
The 7-storey structure could have been finished by P350 million. In 2010, city hall applied for two loans, P90 million to buy garbage trucks and heavy equipment for garbage collection, and P300 million to upgrade the existing 26-hectare dumpsite at Calajunan, Mandurriao, into a sanitary landfill.
The P300-million loan application though is still withheld by the bank. The huge debt Iloilo City has been entrapped in by the present dispensation is the reason why taxes have been jacked up last year by 100 percent, and still target for another round of increase.