April 19, 2009

Government compensation, outdated na rin

Just received a message that BIR examiners, who are all CPAs, get a salary of not more than P15,000 per month.

Alam ko public service ang pagtatrabaho sa gobyerno. But it must also dignify the employees. A licensed professional does not deserve a compensation that low kahit na starting pa lang.

April 16, 2009

The reality of aid?

Halos dalawang taon na ako sa isang foreign aid-funded project at napapansin ko lang na ang daming nasasayang na pera.

Iba pa rin talaga kapag medyo maliit na project na talagang "NGO" ang dating. Sobrang ingat sa paggamit ng pera. Pero kapag ganitong "consultancy" ang dating, napakataas ng sense of entitlement ng mga tao sa perang di naman para sa kanila.

April 14, 2009

Easter

Easter period ngayon. For a lot of Christians, it's a time of hope. That despite the loss of the corporeal body, those who died will still live. Kung paano, di ko alam. Sabi nga nila, walang makakaalam.

Ngayon ang unang Easter na may kulang sa aming pamilya.

I never really gave myself time to grieve my father's death. Whether it's out of pride, machismo or an "I need to be strong for others" complex, I don't know. Or maybe I do know but I just can't get myself to admit it. But despite the lack of grief, that doesn't mean that I do not feel sad. In fact, not a day passed by that I did not think of my father.

Sa totoo lang, I am not sold completely to the idea of life after death. But in this time of Easter, I can not help but look at this blog and find myself wishing na sana, magkaroon ng update.

Sana mag-update si Tata Ernie.

April 13, 2009

Current income tax structure not progressive in substance

Dahil papalapit na ang filing ng ITRs, napasulat ako ng isang income tax related letter sa Inquirer. Sana maprint at sana may sumuporta:

More than a decade ago, an individual with an annual income of just over half a million pesos may be considered rich. Nowadays, it would be ridiculous to consider a midlevel manager earning a gross income of P50,000 a month in league with tycoons like Henry Sy and Jaime Zobel de Ayala. But that is precisely what our current Tax Code implies, since the said manager is classified, along with the billionaires in society, in the topmost income bracket for income tax purposes.

The progressive income tax system which we adopted in this country works on the principle that those with greater means or ability has greater responsibility in bearing the costs of society. It is supposed to be a just system which tempers wealth and income inequality. However, a tax system which is progressive in form is not progressive in substance if it classifies an individual who can not earn enough income to buy his own house in the same league as a rich individual who lives in a gated high-walled exclusive village in Makati. Our current income tax system is so out-of-touch with reality that a professional or a call-center agent with only three to four years of experience already qualifies for the second highest income bracket and is asked to pay an income tax rate that is just 2% away from the maximum individual income tax rate (30% vs. 32%).

The current Tax Code was legislated way back in 1997 even before the Asian financial crisis. The decrease in purchasing power of the Philippine peso and the increase in cost of living since the law was passed has definitely made the individual income tax brackets outdated. I believe it is time for legislators to reexamine and adjust the income tax brackets in our Tax Code to make it more middle-class friendly and for it to serve its progressive intent. This is not just an issue of providing economic relief. It is also an issue of economic justice.

April 9, 2009

O-T.Y. na lang palagi kapag Holy Week?

Kagabi, pagkatapos kong mag-good night sa aking mga dating estudyante na ngayon ay nagtatrabaho na sa mga auditing firms, nakatanggap ako ng mga reply na nagconfirm sa aking hinala.

May pasok na naman ang mga CPA sa mga auditing firms kahit Mahal na Araw.  At wala silang OT pay.  Meron lang silang O-T.Y. para sa kanilang pagtatrabaho sa holiday.

Naiintindihan ko na naghahabol ang mga auditing firms na matapos ang kanilang trabaho bago ang filing ng mga kumpanya ng ITR sa April 15.  Pero dahil cyclical naman ito, bakit hindi man lang makapag-ayos ng work schedule ang mga auditing firms upang mabigyan naman ang kanilang mga empleyado ng panahon na makapagpahinga at makapag-reflect ngayong HOLY WEEK?

Alam ko nasa kultura na ito ng auditing firms.  Pero ito ay isang unhealthy tradition which teaches people to value workaholism for the wrong reasons.  Sabi nga ng isang kong estudyante:

"...e2 2loy, all work & no play. kya pla kyo umalis. :) sulit sa xperience, pro d mo mmalayan wla ka ng personal lyf. buti n lng masyahn aq. kundi loka2 nko ngyn. haha"

Hindi na ba magagawan ng paraan upang hindi na maging laging O-T.Y. kapag Holy Week at iba pang mga holidays?

April 8, 2009

Tapakan ang kapal ng mukha ni Gloria

Nung isang araw, napanood ko sa balita ang pag-unveil ng isang higanteng photomosaic ni GMA sa damuhan sa Luneta sa tapat ng Quirino Grandstand.  Birthday gift daw ito para kay GMA at ito rin ay isasali daw sa Guinness Book of World Records dahil 28,000 square feet ito!

Sa totoo lang, hindi ko gusto ang dating ng photomosaic na ito.  Ang alam kong gumagawa lang ng mga ganitong bagay ay ang mga bansang nasa ilalim ng isang diktaturya kung saan dinidiyos ang heads of state.  Pero freedom of expression naman iyan e.  Kung yun ang trip nila, hindi ko na pakikialaman dahil karapatan naman nilang suportahan si GMA (kahit nakakagulo ng isip kung bakit nila gagawin yun).  Kahit sumakit ang mata ko nang matanaw ko ang photomosaic mula sa aming opisina kanina, hindi ko pipigilan ang trip nila.

Yun nga lang, nalaman ko na BUWIS na binabayad natin ang ginamit sa pagprint ng lecheng photomosaic na yun.  Pondo ng Office of the Press Secretary at DILG.  Pati ang non-public pero for public purpose sana na pondo ng PCSO at PAGCOR, ginamit.  At ipinagmamalaki pa talaga dahil nakapress release sa website ng Malacanang.  Tingnan dito:


Ano ba namang kalokohan ito na gagamitin ang pondong pampubliko para magprint ng isang birthday gift?!  Nakakakulo ng dugo lalo na't panahon ng krisis.  Mahal na Araw pa, panahon ng abstinence pero hindi man lang makaabstain sa kahayukan sa kapangyarihan.  

Kapag di pa nila inalis ang lecheng photomosaic na iyan, pupunta ako dun at TATAPAKAN ang kakapalan ng mukha ng administrasyong ito na hindi na nahiya sa paggamit ng perang hindi naman kanila sa isang vanity project.  Kung game kayo, pumunta na rin kayo sa Luneta at tapakan ang mukha ni Gloria.  Kung pwede putik putik para mas masaya.

April 7, 2009

Chiz against publicizing tax information?

Habang tumatagal, mas lalo akong nakukumbinsi sa kakulangan ng sustansya sa utak ni Chiz Escudero. Eloquence should be matched by substance, but Chiz once again let his mouth shoot off with minimal exercise of brain cells.

Tulad nang naipost ko dito nung nakaraang linggo, naisama ang Pilipinas sa listahan ng G-20 na mga tax haven o mga bansang hindi nagko-cooperate sa pagbabahagi ng tax information. Ang listahang ito ay hinanda ng Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development pagkatapos ng isang comparison ng local standards ng mga bansa sa napagkasunduang international tax standards.

Inaasahan ko na ang balitang ito ay magsisilbing wake-up call sa ating mga legislators dahil ang mga pinupunang local policies ay nag-ugat sa ilang provisions ng National Internal Revenue Code at ng Bank Secrecy Act. Ngunit sa halip na mag-propose ng solusyon, mas minabuti ni Chiz na kastiguhin ang G-20 na sinasabi niyang dapat tumingin muna sa salamin at huwag gamiting scapegoat ang mga bansang tulad ng Pilipinas sa kasulukuyang financial crisis:

G-20 leaders told to look in mirror before looking for scapegoats
B. Fernandez

GROUP of 20 (G-20) Summit leaders equally responsible for the worldwide economic crisis—as well as developing countries known to harbor tax havens—should first admit their sins before coming up with scapegoats, according to opposition Sen. Francis Escudero.

Escudero and other senators were incensed by reports that the Philippines was included in a blacklist drawn up following concerns over international tax standards raised by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) during the recent G-20 summit in London.

The senators lamented that the Philippines, along with three other countries, have been included by the OECD in a blacklist of nations that have not committed to these standards, particularly on exchanging tax information.

“If they want to talk about commitment to transparency, let us start with those US banks that definitely cannot be held up as paragons of fiduciary responsibility,” Escudero stressed, noting that while they collapsed, the local banking system has remained unscathed.

Escudero added that the concerns of the OECD should have been conveyed to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), which will then determine what action should be taken to the extent permitted by law. He said the AMLC should declassify the concerns forwarded by G-20 members, including the bill of particulars.

“If remedial-action legislation is needed to further iron-clad the anti-money laundering law, the AMLC should draw up one based on lessons learned from the actual implementation of the law, and not because a conclave of those responsible for the global economic mess, in absolving themselves of any liability, is shifting the blame to others,” the senator said.

Escudero emphasized those countries like the US cannot be an exemplar on how to conduct oversight since banks misbehaved under the very regulatory regime that they crafted. “Banking practices that contaminated the world [with] toxic debt cannot be models of discretion. It’s like making a junk vehicle the car of the year,” he added.

“The G-20 concerns should be independently verified if they have any basis at all, or if they were hurriedly inserted as a filler in their standard communiqué.”

I have no love lost for the G-20. Their imperialistic tendencies specially in imposing their neoliberal economic policies on developing economies has done a lot of harm to the global economy. But there is a proper time to raise said issues. Unfortunately, Chiz once again donned his populist nationalist face to make an uninformed opinion.

Kung babasahin mo ang pahayag ni Chiz, aakalain mo na tinutukoy ng G-20 ang mga tax haven na punong dahilan ng financial crisis. Ngunit ang ganitong point-of-view ay nagpapakita lamang na hindi sinubaybayan ni Chiz ang nakaraang G-20 summit. Kung nagbasa-basa lamang si Chiz ng diyaryo at hindi lamang ng mga balitang finoforward sa email, malalaman niya na maraming mga kasunduan sa G-20 summit na may kinalaman sa financial regulation reform, sa pagreview ng Basel II standards na siyang naggogovern sa mga financial institutions, sa isang coordinated economic stimulus effort, at marami pang iba. 

Ibig sabihin, ang isyu ng tax haven ay isa lamang sa maraming isyu na kailangang i-tackle upang maging epektibo ang reform ng global financial system. Hindi minsang sinabi na ang mga nataguriang tax haven ang ugat ng krisis. Labeling the G-20's actions as finding a scapegoat is very misleading. As to Chiz's demand to the G-20 to first admit their sins, isn't the G-20 country's commitment to overhaul their financial regulation and banking systems admission enough of their complicity?

Ano ba ang kinalaman ng elimination ng tax havens sa pagsolusyon sa krisis? Ang kasalukuyang krisis ay nangangailangan ng isang aggressive na fiscal policy upang mastimulate ang demand sa ekonomiya. Ang fiscal stimulus na ito ay nangangailangan ng malaking gastos mula sa mga gobyerno. Kailangang maeliminate ang mga tax haven upang lumaki ang koleksyon ng buwis na siyang pagkukunan ng pondong gagamitin sa fiscal stimulus. Kung hindi masosolusyonan ang problemang ito, lalaki ang deficit ng mga gobyerno at maaaring hindi na lang nila ituloy ang kanilang mga stimulus at job generating programs.

Ano ba ang hinihingi ng OECD sa Pilipinas? Simple lang naman. Luwagan nang kaunti ang bank secrecy law upang mas madaling makita ng mga foreign governments ang assets ng kanilang mga citizens / corporations na maaaring nagtatago ng mga assets dito. Hinihingi rin na luwagan ang confidentiality clause tungkol sa taxpayer information (tulad ng kanilang tax paid, taxable income, etc.) na sa ngayon ay hindi maaaring makita ninuman dahil ito ang nakasaad sa ating Tax Code. Maganda rin sigurong i-note na 2004 pa lang, napagkasunduan na ang standard na ito. Pero wala namang ginawa ang legislature kung saan kasama si Chiz.

In a country which is perpetually in debt, whose budget always leads to deficit spending, and whose tax revenues are substantially lost to tax evasion practices, one would have hoped that the OECD's request for a more transparent tax information system would have been welcomed. Pero hindi. Chiz would rather play the "woe look at us 3rd world countries being bullied by the G-20" card. Hindi mo na lang maintindihan kung bakit hindi na lang niya pangunahan ang mga reporma upang maging mas transparent ang tax information system ng Pinas at nang magkaalaman na kung sino ang mga hindi nagbabayad ng tamang buwis.

Minsan na nga lang magkaroon ng reasonable demand ang mga imperialist countries, saka pa kinontra!

Personally, I think tax information reform should extend not just to sharing said information to foreign authorities but also to domestic authorities under certain circumstances. Matagal ko na ring gustong malaman kung mas mataas pa ang binabayaran kong buwis kaysa sa mga pulitikong tulad ni Chiz na ayaw luwagan ang confidentiality provisions ng tax code.

April 6, 2009

Holy Week

Ngayong Holy Week, magdadagsaan na naman ang ilang milyong Pilipino sa mga beach, sa Baguio at kung saan-saan pang bakasyunan upang samantalahin ang kawalan ng pasok sa opisina. Ironic nga lang na kung kelan we are expected to practice abstinence and fasting ay saka naman natin tini-treat ang ating sarili.

April 4, 2009

Matutuwa si GMA nito...

...finally, we got recognition from the G20!

Yun nga lang, we were recognized as a tax haven. Kaya blacklisted tayo.

Hooray for the stupid bank secrecy loopholes introduced by our congressmen!!! Finally, we are earning international notoreity.

The ironic thing: notorious tax haven pala tayo while majority of us are burdened with high automatically withheld taxes and value-added tax with no corresponding quality government service.

April 2, 2009

Chip Tsao postscript

Kanina, nakasakay kami sa jeep at nakikinig sa commentary ng dalawang tambalang sikat sa FM radio. Pang-A and upper B ang market ng tambalan kaya mahilis silang mag-English. Nadiscuss nila si Chip Tsao at pinahayag nila ang kanilang disappointment / outrage sa kanyang sinulat.

After a few minutes, nagdeliver sila ng joke. Kabobohan / kakulangan ng etiquette ng isang yaya ang kanilang punchline.

Yes, the two may say that what they said was a joke. But then again, wasn't Chip Tsao also delivering a joke, na-lost lang in translation?

Mga ipokrito!