MANILA, MARCH 17, 2011 (STAR) By Iris Gonzales - The government posted a budget surplus of P13.4 billion in January, a reversal from a budget deficit of P37.1 billion incurred in the same period last year, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima announced yesterday.

The finance chief said remittances from government-owned and controlled corporations to the national government as well as improved collections of both the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) reversed the January fiscal position to a surplus.

Revenues in January reached P135.9 billion, 47 percent higher than the P92.3 billion reported in the same period last year. The BIR and the BOC registered growth of 15 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

Data from the Department of Finance showed that the BIR collected P74.6 billion while BOC revenues amounted to P20.5 billion.

The Bureau of Treasury, meanwhile, collected P31 billion and remittances from other government offices amounted to P9.8 billion.

Expenditures, on the other hand, amounted to P122.5 billion or five percent lower than the disbursements in the same period last year.

Purisima said the fiscal performance of the government in January showed that the reforms put in place by the Aquino administration to improve revenues have been working.

The reforms include the filing of cases against tax evaders and smugglers.

“As of mid-March, BOC has filed 28 criminal complaints since July 2010. These cases have a combined dutiable value of P42.5 billion and involved 134 respondents consisting of importers, brokers as well as BOC employees,” Purisima said. “As of mid March 2011, the BIR has filed a total of 33 tax evasion cases since July 2010 against high-profile individuals,” he said adding that the “fear factor” is working.

“Our message to our non-tax compliant countrymen is very simple. They have to pay their taxes promptly or face legal consequences, including fines. They should not wait for cases to be filed against them,” he said.

“We are also encouraging all Filipinos to ask for official receipt on their purchases to make sure that the taxes they pay on those products and services go to the government and not somewhere else,” he said.

The Finance chief said the government would continue to file criminal cases against tax evaders, smugglers and unscrupulous government employees.

“This will increase the risk that those who participate in corruption face. Finally, we will rationalize our processes, invest in technology and external information so that we can drive performance in the DOF, BIR and BOC,” he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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