Sunday, November 19, 2017
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business / Columnists

Here comes the bribe

business / Columnists
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Here comes the bribe

Our leader Benigno Simeon (aka BS) just told the whole country that his administration made the grade in its anti-corruption campaign.

I am not sure that such an opinion on his own virtues was up to him to make. It was a bit awkward. OK, it was downright self-serving.

Based on news reports, however, big business seemed to agree with BS that he was doing a good job in fighting corruption.

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Nobody can blame them for wanting to be on the good side of BS. They would never want to be next in line in the raucous media rampage of the BIR, for instance, against supposed tax cheats.

It is also possible that, in talking about the success of the Aquino (Part II) administration, those in big business were referring to the “corruption” in the past.

Surely, the Aquino (Part II) administration has been busy digging up dirt of the previous cute administration. This actually summed up the anti-corruption campaign of BS. Period.

It is as if, in this country, all the bribery and all the stealing in the government only happened during the cute administration of Gloriaetta.

Nobody in the present Aquino (Part II) administration so far was punished for corruption. We all know it still existed in the past year. The word “bribe” is still very much in use today.

All BS had to do was to take a good look at the BIR. Some bureau personnel have been harassing small businesses all over the country.

In the past year or so, some BIR personnel have been telling small businesses that they have to increase their tax payments by at least 20 percent.

Why was that? Well, 20 percent was the internal target set by the bureau for the increase in its total collection. Thus the target should apply to every small business (i.e. not big business, OK) across the board automatically.

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The problem was that many small enterprises could hardly make enough business to justify such a big jump in their tax payments. Ah, basta, they had to increase their tax payments by at least 20 percent, or else…

From what I gathered, those crooked BIR personnel applied the same rate of at least 20 percent increase in tax collection on their “under the table” arrangements.

Was the anti-corruption drive of BS really a big success? Not to the guys down here, I do not think so. Not to the “bosses” of BS!

* * *

Of course, eagerly awaited is the program of the Aquino (Part II) administration called PPP, or the public private partnership, which is actually a new name for the BOT program started in the Ramos administration in the 1990s.

Now some private groups (San Miguel, for instance) are ready to take part in the PPP program, particularly in infrastructure projects.

Like it or not, the PPP cannot take off on its own. In a way, somebody has to make the first move. Think tanks in business are saying that BS must push for it personally.

In other words it is up to BS to jumpstart the program somehow.

* * *

At least Sen. Ralph Recto has a bright idea regarding how to stop all the corruption in cash-rich government agencies.

The senator proposes to channel the discretionary funds of such government outfits as the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) and Philippine Amusement Corp. (Pagcor) to the national treasury as part of the budget.

The proposal, if BS had the mind to adopt it, would instantly erase the corruption in those outfits. Precisely, those discretionary funds are practically the personal kitty of those running these agencies. There is hardly any accountability.

What is more, they only take direct orders from the president, whether it was the Lola at the Palace or BS.

The total amount that the government can generate from those funds of all those government outfits, including the government’s royalty income from the Malampaya natural gas project, could reach P210 billion a year.

Estimates also showed that “tax leakages” could reach more than P100 billion a year, so that together with money from the Recto proposal, the total addition to the treasury could reach more than P300 billion a year.

In comparison, the government’s budget deficit is estimated at P290 billion this year.

In other words, the Aquino (Part II) administration could cover its budget deficit without imposing new taxes or increasing tax rates.

And there is more—some sort of a bonus. Recto wants the same measure for all the income-generating GOCCs [government-owned and -controlled corporations] and the GFIs [government financial institutions], which should be forced to remit “dividends” to the national government every year, which in turn should be used for the yearly budget.

Recto specified those outfits as the Development Bank of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, LandBank, Philippine National Oil Corp., Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, and the National Development Corp.

Perhaps Recto’s proposal can give substance to the campaign promise of President Aquino: No new taxes.

And, yes, less harassment from some BIR personnel!

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TAGS: Government, graft and corruption, Philippines, state budget and taxes
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