Speed up resolution of tax, smuggling cases

THE Departments of Finance (DOF) and Justice (DOJ) will work closely to speed up the resolution of the 635 pending tax and smuggling cases amounting to a combined P103 billion in collectibles and review the incentive program that is costing government at least P144 billion in tax perks and holidays to businesses.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Tuesday, July 12, at a business forum in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) that the new government is at the same time raising public spending on human and physical capital so it could “deliver a bigger bang per buck” in sync with President Duterte’s electoral mandate to bring progress to all Filipinos amid the country’s resurgent economy.

To generate enough funds for such priority programs, he said at the 1st BusinessWorld Economic Forum that the DOF would overhaul the collection systems at the Bureaus of Internal Revenue (BIR) and of Customs (BOC), and aim to eliminate misconduct in these two agencies so notorious for corruption.

Dominguez reiterated the Duterte administration’s openness to unsolicited proposals on big-ticket infrastructure projects from the private sector, and assured the forum participants the approval processes for these ventures would be speeded up and kept transparent always to guarantee a level playing field for interested proponents and bidders.

He announced in the same event that he has picked holdover Undersecretary Gil Beltran to be the “anti-red tape czar” in charge of speeding up processes at the Department of Finance (DOF) and its attached agencies, in keeping with President Duterte’s very first directive for all government offices to provide hassle-free frontline services to the public.

“I will be appointing shortly Undersecretary Gil Beltran to be the Anti-Red Tape Czar,” Dominguez said of Beltran, who is the undersecretary for policy development management and concurrent chief economist at the DOF.

“His (Beltran) role will be to dramatically reduce the number of steps and documentary requirements in transacting business with the DOF and all attached bureaus.”

“We will work closely with the DOJ to speed up resolution of 635 pending tax and smuggling cases, amounting to P103 billion in collectibles,” said Dominguez at the BusinessWorld forum held at the Shangri-La at The Fort hotel in BGC, Taguig City.

“It will be a sad commentary on our state of affairs if RATE and RATS have resulted in only five convictions for tax evasion and two convictions for smuggling,” he said, in reference to the BIR’s Run Against Tax Evaders program and the BOC’s Run After The Smugglers program.

Also, “this administration is committed to rationalizing tax incentives,” he said. “Government provides at least P144 billion in income tax perks and tax holidays. A truly serious study needs to be done about the relevance of many of those tax perks.”

“Fortunately, the previous Congress passed the TIMTA (Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act) that seeks precisely to comprehensively review our tax incentives regime,” he said.
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