Real property valuation reform a win-win for all

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SEN. Sherwin Gatchalian is banking on the   real property valuation reform measure to expedite the automation of local government units (LGUs) across the country and improve efficiency in revenue collection.

Given the direction of the current Marcos administration to enhance digitalization of government processes, Gatchalian affirmed his belief that the measure, once enacted into law, “will pave the way for LGUs to automate their processes including revenue collection.”

Presiding at a recent technical working group of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means that he chairs, Gatchalian noted that currently, only about 68 percent of LGUs in the country are implementing some form of automation.

Of that number, he noted that only 729 LGUs have existing real property assessment processes, adding that the remaining 32 percent—mostly 5th and 6th-class municipalities—have no real property assessment-related system.

According to Gatchalian, full automation of LGUs is also in line with a local governance reform project of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) providing technical assistance to LGUs on computerization, which includes a computer-aided mass appraisal with a geographical information system or GIS.

“From digitizing forms and simplifying processes,” he noted that “automation of LGU processes increases not only efficiency in providing front-facing services but also enables LGUs to become more relevant to their constituents amid rapid digitalization of our everyday life.”

He stressed that under the proposed Real Property Valuation and Assessment Reform (RPVAR) Act, the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) of the Department of Finance (DOF) is mandated “to develop, adopt, maintain and implement uniform valuation standards” which shall be used by all appraisers and assessors in the LGUs and other concerned parties in the appraisal or valuation of lands, buildings, machinery, and other real properties for taxation and other purposes.

“We hope this would bolster our objective to make more efficient the collection of taxes, and make it unnecessary to hike them,” Gatchalian said, partly in Filipino.

He recalled that one of the priority bills of the Marcos administration is the proposed measure expected to “enhance technical cooperation between the national and local governments, and lead to a more efficient rollout of infrastructure projects due to minimized valuation disputes, and improve investor confidence and public trust in the government’s valuation.”

“We have seen from our experience that if you automate all the way to the settlement of fees, you will see an increase in revenue collection without even touching the tax rates. So, I think it is a good opportunity through this law to incentivize and push LGUs to automate,” he added, referring to his experience as former chief executive of Valenzuela City.