San Juan plugs tax leaks to raise revenue, pay debt: Zamora

Cathy Yang, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 21 2019 03:21 PM | Updated as of Oct 21 2019 04:42 PM

San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora speaks to Cathy Yang for ANC's The Boss. ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora said Monday he was plugging tax leaks to raise revenues and pay off roughly P1 billion in debt, as he crossed the 100 days in office mark.

Zamora, who ended the Estrada family's decades-long hold in the city, said a Commission on Audit report showed that San Juan had P736 million in "undercollected" business taxes.

There are also "400 plus" businesses that remain open despite reporting "zero sales," Zamora said in an exclusive interview with ANC's The Boss.

"We are plugging all the leaks in terms of tax collection. Done properly and efficiently, we can increase income," he said.

Of the P1.2 billion in debt, P720 million was allocated to renovate city hall while P520 million for the city hospital. The city government has until 2027 to pay it off, including P200 million interest.

Zamora said it was "challenging" to finish the San Juan City hospital renovation with the builder that was contracted by his predecessor, former Mayor Guia Gomez.

Unsolicited proposals to equip the hospital will be submitted to a Swiss challenge, or a call for competitors, he said.

It has been "so far so good" in his 113 days as mayor, Zamora said.

Zamora said he was confident with the support of at least 9 members of the city council to move his projects forward. Five other councilors are Estrada hardliners, he said.

He is one of three first-term mayors in the Philippine capital who won against established political families.

Former Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, former president and San Juan mayor, lost to his former vice mayor, Isko Moreno. In Pasig City, councilor Vico Sotto won as mayor, defeating the Eusebio family.

One of Zamora's first acts was to suspend pay parking in the perimeter of the Greenhills shopping arcade, San Juan's largest commercial center. This results in P2.5 million in monthly revenue losses.

"I give more weight to saving gas, time, less stress for everyone. Not everything has peso value," he said.

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