RECTO:  CUT  RED  TAPE  IN  EXCHANGE  FOR  HIGHER  FEES

MANILA
, July 16 , 2004
 (STAR)
President Arroyo should order government agencies to cut red tape if she is to increase the fees and charges people pay for service and documents, Sen. Ralph Recto said yesterday.

"No one among the transacting public would begrudge the government of a few pesos more if it would end the need for them to queue up for hours daily, many before the crack of dawn, in securing passports and birth certificates, for example," he said.

Recto, who chairs the Senate ways and means committee, the panel that scrutinizes tax measures, said the only way Malacañang can convince the public to pay extra for service and documents is for the bureaucracy to lessen, if not eliminate, red tape.

"If the local pizza parlor gives your next order free when it misses its 30-minute delivery promise on cut-throat prices, there’s no reason why government can’t guarantee speedy delivery of service on higher fees," he added.

Malacañang is planning to increase the fees and charges that government agencies collect to raise additional funds to bring down the budget deficit, which this year is estimated to hit P300 billion from P200 billion last year and in 2002.

These fees include those being collected by the Department of Foreign Affairs for passports, the National Census and Statistics Office for birth certificates, marriage licenses and similar documents, the Land Transportation Office for drivers licenses, and the Land Registration Authority for land titles.

The planned increase is to be effected through an executive order to be issued by the President. It would raise an additional P6 billion in government fees, from about P23 billion last year to P30 billion this year.

It is one of several revenue measures that the Arroyo administration is proposing to bring down the budget deficit, which has alarmed both local and foreign investors since it has been eating up a huge portion of the annual national budget.

The other measures, which are in the form of taxes, are to be legislated by Congress.

Recto said the government "enjoys the benefit of right timing for increasing fees and charges."

"Fees charged by some agencies are indeed low and are ripe for adjustment," he said.

As for the planned new taxes, Recto has said the Senate is not in the mood to approve these in the wake of the rising costs of power, water, fares, fuel, services, and consumer products. — Jess Diaz


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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