To be able to pay our debts, pay our current needs for pandemic response and assist those affected severely by inflation and rising fuel prices, the government must improve efficiency, computerize the systems for better transparency and tax gambling.
Incoming Senate Ways and Means Committee chair Sherwin Gatchalian makes much sense when he says there is no need to raise new or current taxes but to improve collection efficiency, eliminate gambling through computerization and taxing gambling and other vices.
This after he was presented by the outgoing administration with a list of fiscal measures to enable the government to pay off its yawning debt of P12.7 trillion and still help pandemic-affected sectors to recover.
But why does he not mention about taxing the multimillionaires (like his family) and billionaires, as what the United States is heading to.
As far as he is concerned, the debts and continuing pandemic recovery measures can’t be solved by merely raising taxes or imposing new ones.
‘People resent taxes being misused’
Crucial to the effort to shore up tax revenue is making collections more efficient by a combination of the right people, streamlined processes and political will, he said in a recent radio interview.
Most people concede there is a need to pay taxes for the government to have funds.
“But people resent that some taxes are misused, particularly small businessmen he talked to who “still chafe over the corruption that goes on in the payment of their taxes/fees,” said a Business Mirror story.
Sometimes, Gatchalian said, those collecting taxes will deliberately raise the adjustment of tax due, so they have elbow room to lower this upon payment of a bribe.
“Our priority should be to wipe out corruption before talking of raising taxes,” asserted Gatchalian.
The new heads of the Bureaus of Customs and Internal Revenue should not simply be those who profess to be clean, but they “must know the pasikot sikot [ins and outs], the system of collection,” he explained.
He pointed out that, “corruption is not just at the top,” but a lot of MSMEs “complain of corruption at lower levels.”
Ready, willing to pay taxes but not corruption
Many taxpayers are ready to pay taxes, but hate the corruption that goes with it, the lawmaker lamented.
Asked if he agrees that the choice of BOC heads should be limited to ex-military men, Gatchalian replied that he understood the rationale for such:
“They put ex-military men because they are looking for syndicates, corrupt officials, etc. I admit that these things are happening, but we should also look at reforming the system. One way is by computerization.”
“So, we also need someone who can improve the system; this is a key qualification for BOC head.”
Gatchalian recalled their experience in his Valenzuela bailiwick.
“If you just raise taxes, only the corrupt—officials and taxpayers—will be happy.The corrupt officials will manipulate the assessment, the corrupt taxpayer will simply not pay the right taxes.”
Sources of tax revenue
If government is to boost tax collections, “let’s look at vices and non-essentials, i.e., gambling.”
On imposing a “wealth tax,” Gatchalian said “this merits attention, promising, We will study that very well.”
He said he does not favor suspending the collection of excise taxes on oil products
“because that spells a big loss to government coffers and it would do more harm, because public services will suffer as government faces a P200-billion loss.”
He favors more granting targeted ‘ayuda’ for affected sectors like Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) and tricycle drivers. The ones most in need should be directly helped, Gatchalian said.
But, he stressed,
“time is of the essence. Targeted nga pero patay na ang kabayo [but it gets there too late], by the time the subsidy arrives; aid gets to them after six months.”
Gatchalian cites the need digital payments to have speed, saying: “If e-sabong can be paid via GCash, what more with ayuda?”
On unbundling of energy rates, Gatchalian noted that the courts “issued a TRO” (Temporary Restraining Order) on a move by the Department of Energy (DOE) to push unbundling of charges but acknowledged that petroleum companies do have the right to keep some of their trade secrets.”
“For purposes of transparency, I agree with unbundling, but we can’t compel them to reveal everything,” he said.
What can be revealed in the unbundling process? Gatchalian suggests that “first, the source of petroleum inventory and important also is the time the inventory was acquired.”
He said “oil companies cannot raise prices if they just bought their stocks.”
Tags: #Sen.SherwinGatchalian, #improvedcollection, #computerization, #noneedtoraisetaxes