Fee hikes 'still in the pipeline'

PROPOSED adjustments to regulatory fees and charges will push through, but the timeline has yet to be finalized, a senior Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) official said last Friday.

“There will still be a revised schedule of fees and charges,” EC Commissioner McJill Bryant Fernandez said at the sidelines of a forum organized by the regulator and the Philippine Stock Exchange.

“I cannot say the timeline yet, but the issuance of revised fees and charges is still in the pipeline.”

Fernandez said this following the commission's roundtable discussion with representatives of some of the business groups that had filed a joint letter in October opposing the proposed fee increases.

“I like to describe the meeting as very productive and positive,” the SEC official said.

“There would be assignments on both ends. We commit from our end to do our coordination with the ARTA (Anti-Red Tape Authority),” he added.

“The meeting was very positive in terms of moving forward on the topic of the proposed fees and charges.”

Fernandez said the commission and the business groups would soon release a joint statement regarding the matter.

The SEC issued in August a proposal implementing a revised schedule of fees for registration, licensing, accreditation and other related transactions for registered corporations.

Business groups objected, saying the agency's current collections “already far exceed the cost of its operations” and that higher fees would only serve as a “huge burden” to stakeholders.

“Proofs of this include the [SEC's] purchase of its own building in Makati CBD (central business district), reportedly costing about P2.5 billion, in addition to about 90 commercial parking slots estimated at about P1.0 million per slot,” the letter read.

Responding to this, the SEC organized a meeting with the groups, but only representatives from the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry attended.

Signatories to the letter also included the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Franchise, Chamber of Thrift Banks, Philippine Retailers Association, Philippine Association of Legitimate Service Contractors, Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization, and the Stratbase ADR Institute for Strategic and International Studies.