MANILA, JULY 7, 2008
(STAR) By Marvin Sy - The Department of Finance has directed the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to step up collection for the rest of the year in order to meet or exceed their targets and generate more government revenue.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, in an interview over state-run dzRB, said the two agencies needed to improve their collections especially now that the government is expected to spend even more to help the masses cope with rising prices of basic goods.

The national government has been handing out food and cash subsidies to the poor to help them in their food and power expenses.

“We need to improve our tax collection because a high deficit would have an impact on the depreciation of the peso. So if we increase spending without causing a wider deficit, then it would help,” Teves said.

Teves said the high inflation, which hit 11.4 percent in June, would mean that the funding requirements of the government would increase as the subsidies for the poor are also expected to increase.

For the first five months of the year, the BIR and BOC both recorded increased collections.

The BIR recorded a total of P335.7 billion in collections, up by 17.5 percent from the same period last year.

In the case of the BOC, total collections for the first five months were at P92.1 billion, up by P22.9 billion from the previous year.

According to Teves, preliminary figures indicate that the BIR is on track to meet its target for June.

In the case of the BOC, Teves said there are indications that it would be able to make up for its shortfall during the first five months.

The BOC has often been criticized for rampant smuggling in the country and for its collection shortfall in the past.

Criticisms against the BOC became even more pronounced with the revelation made by the Senate that its officials and employees rewarded themselves with around P400 million for exceeding their collections in 2006.

It was alleged that the BOC asked some oil firms to advance their payments on import duties in order for them to come up with the high revenue figures.

Teves said some movements have already been made within the BIR and BOC to keep the officials and employees on their toes.

“There is already an initial reshuffling. I am just waiting for the recommendation of the BIR on their reshuffling or transfers,” he said.

He added that the heads of both agencies are constantly being monitored to see if their agencies are performing well.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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