More Filipinos, especially those in far-flung areas, may soon have better access to water, after Senator Panfilo M. Lacson pushed for the passage of a measure seeking to exempt local water districts from income taxes.
Lacson, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said that while government may lose up to P700 million in foregone revenue, it is worth the chance for water utilities to expand and develop in the long run.
“The foregone revenue from the Government is estimated between P650 to 700 million. However, as provided in the bill, the annual revenue losses can be recouped from the expansion and capital development expenditures of the local water districts. In the long run, this strategy of your Committee seeks to respond to the reality that water scarcity and misuse pose threats to sustainable development and environment,” he said in his sponsorship speech for the approval of Senate Bill 3392.
“The tax savings will be used for capital development expenditure in order to address access to potable water of our people,” he added.
Lacson cited figures from 2000 indicating only 46.13 percent of the country’s 76.485-million population have access to water.
Only Cordillera, Southern Luzon, Eastern Visayas, Western Mindanao and Metro Manila are not considered waterless, he noted.
A separate study in 2006 estimated that 79 percent of Filipinos have access to safe drinking water, including 44 percent with individual house connections, 10 percent with shared connections, and 25 percent relying on shared point sources.
Lacson also lamented that in the last 30-plus years, several laws were enacted either granting or withdrawing the tax exemption privileges of LWDs.
Also, he cited the 10 basic principles on water, which is considered as a human right and as a finite and vulnerable resource.
The principles also decree access to water should be equitable and sensitive to gender and the disadvantaged; governance of water resources should be transparent and socially accountable, and financially sustainable and socially acceptable; water supply services should be demand-responsive; water supply should be a priority in poverty reduction; sanitation is directly linked to water supply; and the development of water supply sector should contribute to promoting gender equality.