Market vendors seek delay in stall rental hike

FISH section of the LaPaz public market in Iloilo City. (R. Alejo)

WILL the Iloilo City government give in to the plea of market vendors to delay the mandated 10 percent hike in stall rentals even if it stands to lose P2 million in revenues in the next four years?

The Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Markets tackled this question in a committee hearing led by Councilor Mandrei Malabor on Aug. 11, 2017 at the Iloilo City Hall.

“Pigado ang market subong kag kita n’yo man ang sitwasyon sang market subong, kag ang pagsinalayon namon tama ka-pigado,” lamented Barangay Captain Woody Deliarte of Kauswagan, City Proper.

Deliarte is also the president of Iloilo Terminal Market Vendors Association.

Regulation Ordinance 2009-316 authored by Councilor Ely Estante mandates the automatic 10 percent increase in public market rentals every two years.

The hikes were enforced in years 2012, 2014 and 2016.

Claiming that they only noticed the increases in 2016, the vendors appealed to the SP and to the Local Economic Enterprise Office (LEEO) to delay the hike for 2018 by amending RO 2009-316.

The LEEO manages the seven public markets in the city.

Deliarte claimed the appeal is an exercise of their right which he claimed was ignored when their opinion was not sought before the ordinance was enacted in September 2009.

We’re asking to delay the hike to 2019 because before, the automatic increase was supposed to happen every five years but it was reduced to every two years. We are willing to settle for increases every three years because there was no public hearing on the two-year cycle, that’s why we are fighting for the three-year period,” he added.

According to the City Treasurer’s Office, the LEEO will lose more or less P2 million in income for five years if the automatic increase of rental rates will be deferred to 2019.

In 2018, the CTO projected a P15-million income from rentals if rates will be hiked next year; and P14 million sans the hike, provided the collection is at 100 percent rate.

But CTO stressed that in reality, LEEO collection from rentals averages only 80 to 90 percent per year, with P12 million as the highest rental collection to date.

Rentals are the LEEO’s second highest source of income, second to cash tickets or alcavala.

 

JOB HIRES

Jose Ariel Castañeda, LEEO chief, stressed the deferment of rental increase will greatly impact the operations of his office.

Castañeda said they will be forced to reduce their manpower to make both ends meet if the hike is postponed.

“(It will affect) the salary increases sang tawo and other operating expenses kay naka-budget na siya, nadala na sya sa projection. Obviously may impact gid sya, pwede nga mangbuhin kita sang tawo to offset that (losses), especially the casuals para indi ma-apektuhan ang mas necessary nga operations,” Castañeda said.

The city government has still to implement two tranches of salary increases based on the Salary Standardization Law.

To offset the losses and soften the impact of delayed fixed income for LEEO, Castañeda suggested the increase of “impractical” charges like the issuance of 50 to one peso cent cash tickets.

Based on the ordinance, some of the goods charged for 25-50 cent to one peso “entrance fee” in public markets include (per piece) buri bags, block of ice, pineapple, empty flower pot and sack, chopping board, kalan, bundle of kangkong leaves.

The highest cash ticket prescribed in the ordinance is P25 per box of cigarette and sack of secondhand clothing.

Castañeda believes these charges are not only obsolete but are also subject to abuse and corruption.

“If we have cash tickets that are denominated at P5 and P10, we have to eliminate issuances that require only 50 cents and one peso because most likely, ang piso nga na indi na maisyuhan cash ticket,” he stressed.

The LEEO has been struggling for years now to meet its mandate of generating income to supplement the city’s resources.

Castañeda implemented reforms to improve the office, particularly the efficient collection of fees.

Malabor gave the LEEO one month to submit its position paper with regard the vendors’ appeal.

Malabor stressed that while the city government doesn’t want to burden the vendors of additional fees, this must be done not at the expense of the operations of the city’s important office.

“Let us look for a compromise and win-win solution,” he added.

The vendors, on the other hand, called for improvements in the markets to ensure dynamic and productive businesses.

Deliarte added that they are willing to accept the two-year cycle in rental hikes if market facilities are upgraded, which will pave the way for improved business.

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