Postscript to ill-advised book tax
By Digoy Fernandez FIRST of all, we must make one thing clear. We support and believe in the right of the state of impose just taxes that are to be used for the maintenance and development of a country and its people. Unfortunately, this principle works well in theory only in a few cases. Because of very poor tax administration(i.e., the inability or unwillingness of our revenue collectors to properly enforce tax regulations) the government finance team is often pressed to make up for deficits that crop up because of the larger amount of expenditures over receipts. So, what does the typical government bureaucrat do when tasked with thinking about ways to bridge the gap between expenses and revenues? The knee-jerk response would be to simply impose a new slew of taxes, the more the better. Perish the thought that revenue agents should soil their hands with attempts to impose a more efficient regime to tax collection or administration on existing taxes! And yet, our country’s multilateral and bilateral creditors and donors have long said that our revenue people have to tighten the ship and undertake a more efficient collection machinery. What seems to be the problem, then, in simply enforcing better tax and revenue collections? It is an open secret that the two or three main revenue generation agencies are plum posts sought by those seeking to increase their respective net worths. I recall an instance when a supporter of Ka Jaime Ferrer visited the old man when I happened to be in his residence. When Ka Jaime asked the man what he wanted, he simply requested that he be given a position in either Customs or the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Ka Jaime--a paragon for honesty in government--shouted at the hapless man: “What? I will assign you there just so you can steal or make money illegally? No!!!” This is why the onerous book tax contemplated by the brain-dead Espele Sales of the Finance department was pounced upon by book lovers and right thinking people both here and abroad. First of all, it was a clear violation of an international convention, and no amount of stretching of semantics could or would justify such a stupid tax, all to raise a few bucks for the government. Unfortunately for Ms Sales, just when the campaign against her and her tax scheme was escalating, the two Davids (Cook and Archuleta) visited the country. Their arrival, stay, and performances here resulted in the Philippines coming up in the top ten places being followed in Twitter. Well, to make a long story short, local cyberspace mavens twittered Espele Sales and her ill-contrived tax scheme resulting in a rapidly mushrooming viral anti-Sales/anti-tax campaign that was likely to drag President into the more negative aspects of the fray. Whatever her motivations, she most likely saw the light and rescinded the stupid book tax. End of problem. Once again, people in government were put on notice that they cannot assume a “business as usual” with respect to their shenanigans, because all it takes is a small band of intrepid cyberspace jockeys to put out the dirty laundry of these malefactors for all to see…and get very angry at.
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