One of President Ollanta Humala’s policy priorities is to raise taxes on mining, but he will probably seek a comparatively moderate increase given his desire to keep carefully the sector fairly attractive for traders. Recent statements by key officials stating the government will work out its proposals with mining companies and that keeping the sector competitive will be a guiding rule of reform, reinforce this appraisal.
Nevertheless, two factors could lead the government to seek a more cumbersome tax increase. The first is Humala’s desire to centralize revenue in the hands of the central government, which poses the risk that companies will bear the cost of compensating local and regional governments for just about any income loss. Second & most significantly, a drop in Humala’s approval rating suggest he could become politically weaker in the medium term, something that would raise the risk that he shall tax more heavily mining production to finance new spending.
Recent statements by key officials strengthen this appraisal. They have reaffirmed the government’s plan to expose a windfall revenue taxes on mining, a proposal that experienced already been contained in Humala’s advertising campaign manifesto. But new “prime-minister” Salomon Lerner, Minister of Mines and Energy Carlos Herrera Descalzi, and Minister of Finance Luis Castilla have all said that the government will negotiate tax steps with companies and seek to keep carefully the sector competitive.
Humala himself said in his 28-July inauguration conversation that the federal government will discuss higher taxes and respect taxes stabilization agreements. While Humala originally proposed a 40%-45% windfall revenue taxes (without providing any details), now officials say that the government will evaluate its options and officials are keeping meetings with associates from private companies to listen to their views and suggestions. Some miners are making the situation that any taxes increase should focus instead on the royalty taxes, which are levied on sales at a 1% to 3% rate depending on revenues.
And rather than simply increasing rates, they propose a shift in the taxes bottom from sales to earnings, with a slipping scale predicated on operating margin — something similar to what neighboring Chile has done. Regardless of the recent transmission of moderation, however, two factors suggest that some risk that the nationwide government will seek a more ambitious taxes increase remains.
The first is Humala’s wish to centralize more income in the hands of the central government. But if he decides to go down that path, even if to reduce only the existing exchanges to subnational governments partially, the burden would fall on companies shoulders. Second & most importantly, a drop in Humala’s approval rating suggest he could become politically weaker in the medium term, which would give him a motivation to look at new sources of revenue. Humala’s acceptance ratings have previously fallen sharply from 70% in June to 41% in July.
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This does mean that the timing of taxes changes will matter. Both nationwide federal government and the sector don’t mind spending time in addressing the issue at the earliest opportunity. Minister of Mines and Energy Deslcalzi said the government hopes to introduce tax changes prior to the end of this year. Nonetheless it will probably take at least a couple of months before the federal government has your final proposal. Officials remain conducting internal studies to have a clearer sense of the existing effective tax burden and your options available for change.
Once the federal government has a proposal, it shall carry out additional discussions with companies. And then it’ll need congressional approval, which would take at least another couple of months probably. With Humala’s approval ratings likely to drop, the longer it requires to finalize a proposal, the bigger the chance that the government’s appetite for new income will increase.
As for the odds of congressional authorization, the government will likely have support for a proposal seen as relatively moderate enough. Humala will need votes from centrist legislators given that his party won only 36% of seats in congress. But there keeps growing consensus among policymakers in Peru that there surely is room for higher taxes on mining, and associates of former President Alejandro Toledo’s party, who hold another 16% of seats, will support a moderate tax hike. In the event Humala opts for a more cumbersome taxes increase, congress would probably be considered a factor of moderation. If facing strong opposition there, the national federal government would probably make some concessions to help make the reform more palatable to traders.
Though unlikely, a more negative scenario could develop. If Humala’s approval ratings drop sharply, he could be tempted to use an aggressive tax hike on mining as a way to boost popular support. His weaker politics standing would theoretically make congressional authorization more uncertain, but he could prioritize and politicize the pressing concern, seeking to generate popular pressure on legislators to approve his proposal while also trying to coopt legislators from other celebrations.