Efficient Tax Collection, Not Text ‘Tax,’ Needed for Health, Education

Before telling telecommunications companies to practice “social responsibility” by allotting 20 percent of text message profits to a special fund for health and education, government should first practice some responsibility of its own in collecting taxes efficiently. 

Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Tuesday the government will have no moral ascendancy to make calls for “social responsibility” from the private sector if it cannot rid its tax collection system of inefficiency and corruption.

“Why impose added conditions on texters and telecommunication companies when all the government has to do is plug its tax loopholes and use the ‘savings’ in the budget?. With the ‘surplus’ in the budget, there is no need for such ‘tax,’” he said.

Lacson noted that during a Development Budget Coordinating Council (DBCC) hearing earlier this month, budget secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. admitted the government generated “substantial” savings every fiscal year out of the annual nationwide budget.

For personal services (PS) alone, the government generated savings from a low of P80 billion out of a PS budget of P252 billion in 2002 to a high of P177 billion out of a PS budget of P366 billion in 2007.

Even the budget of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in 2007 had a “hidden” PS of P1.890 billion in the Agrarian Reform Fund – an item that does not need a PS as it has no staffing support.

“Add to that the windfall from the 12-percent Value Added Tax (VAT) for oil products, particularly during the months when world prices of oil were record-high,” he said.

With all these sources of funds and with government not plugging its tax loopholes, Lacson said government has no need – and no right – to squeeze more revenues from the private sector.

“If this is how much we do not spend on personal services alone, we can even afford to give bonuses to our teachers, policemen and soldiers every month of the year – not to mention the needed funds for health and education. In effect, before we think of texting for a cause, we in government should shape up for a cause,” he said.