Enrile vows to thwart new taxes

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile yesterday said he will thwart efforts to impose new taxes and put to task the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to improve revenue collections to close the gap in budget deficit.

In a radio interview in Cagayan, the Senate President said the revenue collection agencies should improve their performance “because we’re running on deficit and we’re borrowing money to run the government.”

In 2009, the government posted a record budget deficit of P298.5 billion, exceeding the shortfall scenario of the Department of Finance (DOF) by P8.3 billion. This year’s budget deficit is projected to hit P293 billion.

“We will have to improve the performance of the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue dahil maraming leakage. Malaking pera ang nawawala dahil sa smuggling,” said Enrile, who is running for reelection under Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

Total collection of the BIR for the first quarter of 2010 hit P172.3 billion, or an increase of 9.25 percent from the target of P157.7 billion.

The customs bureau, on the other hand, reported that its first-quarter collection reached P48.81 billion as of March 22, an increase of about P10 billion from last quarter’s figure but still short of the P6.32 billion target for the period.

Despite the slight improvement in collection, the government expects the budget gap to swell to exceed the target of P110.94 billion during the first three months of the year.

The agency is tasked to collect P830 billion in 2010, which is P45 billion lower than last year’s program of P875 billion.

At the same time, Enrile said he will oppose any imposition of new taxes, particularly the plan to implement a 12-percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on toll fees because this will unnecessarily burden the people.

“I will oppose the imposition of new taxes kasi ang magbabayad noon ay ang maliliit na tao, ‘yung mga ordinaryong tao, ‘yung mga mamimili,” Enrile said. “Dapat ang tutukan natin ay ‘yung prinsipyo ng taxation ay ang ability to pay. ‘Yung sino ang malaki ang kinikita, ‘yung ang malaki ang babayaran na buwis.”

The VAT on toll fee, the PMP senatorial candidate said, is a form of new tax and should be thwarted to protect the public from additional financial obligation.

Under the BIR plan, the VAT on toll fees would be first imposed on private vehicles on top of the Road Users Tax, or money collected from vehicles to recover the fees expended by the government for the construction and maintenance of roads.

The VAT on toll fees was supposed to take effect last April 1, but was deferred by the Department of Transportation and the DOF after protests by various groups. The Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) has been tasked to draw up the mechanics for its implementation by the BIR within the month.

“‘Yung VAT on toll mali ‘yon. Ang tax na kinukolekta ng gobyerno ay para bayaran ‘yung gumawa ng toll road. Kung ginawa ng gobyerno direktamente ‘yon, buwis ang gagamitin niya sa paggawa kaya walang concessionaire. Ngunit kapag nangolekta ng recovery sa tax na ginastos niya para sa paggawa ng road na ‘yon, hindi pwedeng patawan ng VAT dahil walang transaksyon, walang sale of service or goods,” Enrile explained.#