More transparency needed to boost mining industry - Purisima
MANILA, Philippines – More transparency is needed for the Philippine mining sector to realize its full potential, said Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.
Speaking at the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Purisima said mining can contribute one to two percentage points to the country’s economy growth if current governance issues are resolved.
“This industry can actually provide an extra gear or two to the Philippine economy,” he said.
“The past two years and 10 months of the Aquino administration, you’ve seen how good governance can change the fortunes of a country. In an economic environment where it’s very difficult, we’ve seen the country do much better than its performance in the past when the world economy was doing well,” he added.
Purisima said there should be transparency in both contract granting and tax payments made by mining firms.
He urged that mining contracts be auctioned off, and firms in extractive industries to be required to publish the amount of revenues they turn in to government.
The Aquino administration signed in July 2012 Executive Order (EO) 79 imposing a moratorium on new mining permits pending the passage of a new law on the revenue-sharing scheme between the industry and government.
Other issues such as conflicts between national and local laws are expected to be addressed by the new law.
Mining firms are awaiting the resolution of these issues so they can go ahead with their investments. The $5.9-billion Tampakan copper-gold project of Swiss mining firm Xstrata and local partner Sagittarius Mines for example pushed back its commercial operations to 2019 because of a provincial ban on open-pit mining in South Cotabato.
“At the heart of this reform agenda is to implement better governance in this industry; to implement more transparency, accountability and at the same time, empower the stakeholders so we can truly achieve the potential of mining in the Philippines,” Purisima said.
“When I look at the past of the mining industry, and there’s this debate going on how much is the proper share of government, how much is government really getting – I think it’s important we settle this issue, define the parameters before we move forward and claim we’ve been able to accomplish a better regulatory environment for the mining sector,” he added.
The delayed Tampakan project was expected to account for at least 1% of gross domestic product (GDP) per year of operations.
In the third quarter of 2012, following the signing of EO 79, Philippine GDP grew 7.1%, among the fastest in the world, but the mining sector contracted by 2.2%.
Prior to the release of GDP data, the government significantly slashed its mining investment forecasts for 2013 to 2016. - Rappler.com