Monday, November 08, 2004

Don't Blame Rank-and-File For Low Collections - Rep. Beltran

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltra
News Release
November 9 , 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602931-6615
Ina Alleco R. Silverio, Chief of Staff
Celphone number 09213907362

Rep. Beltran defends rank and file employees of Bureau of Customs against accusations of low collections; slams IMF, WTO programs in the agency.

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran once more takes up the cudgel for government employees and their rights to security of tenure and benefits by opposing House Bill No. 2996 or the Committees on Civil Service and Professional Regulation, Oversight, Ways & Means and Appropriation's Report No. 28 authored mainly by Representatives Danilo Suarez, Imee Marcos, Mauricio Domogan, FrancisNepomuceno, Jesli Lapus, and Rolando Andaya Jr. among others. The bill, titled "An Act Providing for Optimum Performance in Revenue Collection through the Grant of Special Incentives and Rewards for Exemplary Service and through Lateral Attrition in revenue generating agencies of the government and for otherpurposes," is more commonly known as the LAL, or the Lateral Attrition Law.

Beltran said that employees in the GFIs and the revenue-generating agencies such as the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs were up in arms against the LAL, saying that the proposed law was premised on unjust grounds and biased against employees. "The proposal tries to pass itself off as a system of reward and encouragement to generate increased collections, but in truth it is nothing but a streamlining program that viciously does away with due process and attacks employees' constitutionally-guaranteed rights to security of tenure," he said. "The national government is using government employees as its whipping boys and sacrificial lambs in its desperate attempts to scrimp and save.

"Beltran said that it was immoral, illegal and unjust that the government is blaming rank and file employees from the low collection of taxes and other revenues. He said that government employees in the affected agencies performtheir tasks to the best of their abilities, but they only act within the rulesand regulations governing their agencies. "The programs being implemented in the agencies and the systemic corruption in the higher offices are the real problems, not the employees," he said.

Beltran pointed out that in the BOC, for instance, there are there are programs and policies that hinder the increase in agency collection: the 11-point reform Program of International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the BOC geared towards liberalization and biased for foreign investors; the faulty Philippine taxComputerization Program (PTCP); the tariffication program imposed by the WorldTrade Organization (WTO); gargantuan tax exemptions for big businesses; shift of valuation system from fair market value to export value to transaction value; the selectivity system (95% of the goods that enter the country are no longer examined and automatically allowed entry; and direct/technical smuggling.

"So why are the employees being blamed for low collections? It's strategically impossible for them to be at fault for the supposed under performance of the BOC.

The core programs and the system of checking, monitoring and tarrification being implemented in the BOC are opposed to high revenue collection, but biased for foreign investors and their big local business partners," he said.

He also pointed out that the Philippine Tariff Computerization Program (PTCP) for BIR and BOC was also implemented by the National Government. The PTCP got $150M financial loans from the IMF-WB, but the program was a washout. The computer hardware for the said project was provided by UNISYS, and the computer software was provided by UNCTAD. The system uses the software ASYCUDA++ (Automated System Customs Data). Crown Agents was also hired as PTCP's project consultant. The computers and the servers are constantly bogging down. Despite the computerization system, the project was not successful both in increasing revenues and ending corruption in the BIR and BOC.

Finally, Beltran scored Malacanang for its moves to reshuffle the leadership in the BOC, justifying the reshuffle to low collections. Head collectors from Subic, Clark, Tacloban and Batangas have been recently reshuffled."This is more than likely the beginning of the comprehensive reorganization in the BOC," he pointed out. "Malacanang is already moving to put its key people in the BOC as a prelude to the implementation of the lay-offs of the rank and file," he said.#

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