City dads propose charging tourists environmental fee
City councilors Maria Mylen Yaranon and Joel Alangsab have introduced an “Environmental User’s Fee (EUF) System” that will provide for the collection of fees for the use of the city’s environment and natural resources.
They said the system will help address land, air, and water pollution as a result of the use of natural resources through tourism.
The proposed EUF will regulate the use of the city’s resources and will reduce pollution in many areas. The fees will be used for waste management and environmental programs in the city.
If the proposal is approved, tourists will be required to pay P75 EUF per person to be collected by authorized personnel, with the City Treasurer being the principal collecting officer assisted by a collecting agent who will be appointed by the city mayor.
The collected fees will accrue to the general funds. The Commission on Audit will ensure efficiency and transparency.
The proposal includes an incentive scheme where 10 percent of the net collection will be allocated to the barangays. From the 10 percent, 40 percent will be given to the host barangay where the tourist destination/site is located while the 60 percent will be divided equally among component barangays of the city.
The barangays should allocate their EUF share to their solid waste management and environmental programs in line with the solid waste and environmental management plans of the city.
Baguio residents will not be covered by the ordinance. They will be exempted from paying EUF provided they show proof of residency such as passport, community tax certificate, or voter’s ID. Children below seven years of age will be exempted. Tourists with disability and senior citizens with IDs will be entitled to 20 percent discount.
The proposed ordinance also provides that tourists will be penalized if they commit any of the following violations: refusal to pay EUF – P2,500 fine; misrepresentation of one’s identity, residency, age or other personal circumstances to avoid paying EUF – P2,500 fine; non-issuance by the designated and authorized collector of the official tickets/receipts in favor of the EUF payee – P5,000 fine or six months imprisonment or both; and unauthorized collection of EUF – P5,000 fine or six months imprisonment or both.
An amount of P500,000 will be appropriated to fund the initial activities and institutional mechanisms and processes in the implementation of the ordinance.
Sixty days after its approval, the City Mayor’s Office, the City Tourism Office, the City Treasurer’s Office, and the City Environment and Parks Management Office will formulate the implementing rules and guidelines of the ordinance.
The proposal was referred to the committee on appropriations and finance for further study and recommendation. – Jordan G. Habbiling