Waiting for the Big Wave

Buencamino does political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Today newspaper, March 5-6, 2005 edition, page 11.

Indonesia had a tsunami. We have a tsunano.  – AER wit

According to a report in Today, Cesar Purisima, the new finance secretary, told members of the Foundation for Economic Freedom that the public should “pay the right taxes first before complaining about corruption in the government’s tax administration.”  Good point, may rason din naman siya.

And then he added, “We need to step up. We don’t even have to pay the
right amount [of taxes].We just need to pay 20 percent more.”  May rason na para batukan siya,’ di ba?

Remember the Lateral Attrition Law? That law was supposed to motivate
BIR and Customs collectors with bonuses for doing what they should be doing in the first place— collect 100 percent of taxes and customs duties due. Now, are we all supposed to pretend that 20 is 100 percent? Will bonuses be handed out if revenues are 80 percent less than what
they should be?

The same newspaper quoted a finance department official explaining, Purisima’s strategy is to set “small, achievable goals” and consistently “overachieve” them, as a prelude to setting higher
targets. “It’s better than setting very high goals and falling flat,” he said. Milwida Guevarra, the former finance undersecretary, described Purisima’s approach as “pragmatic.” Incremental at a time when bold steps are needed— is a more appropriate description. Babatukan lang ba o tadyakan na rin?

Purisima said the government was going to go after the small tax evaders  before “tackling the big ones”. He said. “When you’re training to climb a mountain, you don’t climb Mount Everest right away. You start with the smaller ones.” Oo nga naman, lalo na if one intends to climb Everest alone and unequipped. But when there are eight tax laws and  a bonus scheme for Sherpas, then one is not talking
about climbing a mountain alone, one is talking about riding an eight-lane highway to the mountain top and asking for time to “build confidence.”  Isang
kutos lang, pleeease.

Finally, Purisima “unveiled” a brilliant plan to enlist foreign governments to work as informers. He said that since tax returns are one of the requirements for a visa to travel to western countries, he was going to ask other governments to require the same thing. He said, “And if it’s not confidential, they should give us a copy [of the tax returns]” Teka muna. Tax returns na nga. Ibig sabihin nagbayad na ng buwis. Ibig sabihin may copya na ang BIR. Bakit hihingi pa siya ng kopya sa embassy? So they can report that they have a copy of a copy that came from the BIR? Bwiset, gusto ko na sanang gulpihin eh retarded pala.

This country would sleep a lot better if Malacanang relocated to a beach. It can always dream that it will wake up one fine morning and find that a tsunami finally washed away the tsunano and her technocrats.

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