MANILA – Structural reforms during the Duterte administration have allowed the government to keep tax and revenue effort levels remaining at improved levels during the pandemic, a ranking Department of Finance (DOF) official said.
In a virtual briefing hosted by the Integrated Development Studies Institute (IDSI) on Tuesday, DOF Undersecretary Mark Joven said tax effort, or the index of the share of tax collections to gross domestic product (GPD), rose significantly in 2019.
Joven said tax effort increased to 13.9 percent in 2019 from 12.4 percent during the second Aquino administration and 12.2 percent during the Arroyo government.
He said revenue effort, or the share of government revenues to GDP, went up to 15.4 percent from 14 percent in the first Aquino administration and 14.1 percent during the Arroyo administration.
“And even during the pandemic years, 2020 and 2021, we see that revenue effort did not fall significantly compared to earlier economic and financial crises like the Asian financial crisis and the subprime crisis,” he added.
Joven said tax effort normally drops during a crisis, but noted there was little slippage for these gauges for the Philippine government during the current crisis.
He attributed this to structural reforms implemented by the current administration on the country’s tax system.
Joven said the government “shifted from a predominantly income-based taxation system to a more consumption-based taxation system.”
“This, essentially, makes it more efficient to collect taxes,” he added.
Joven further said the main revenue-generating agencies, namely the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) which collects around 70 percent of taxes, and the Bureau of Customs (BOC), did not resort to shame campaigns to increase government revenues.
“So we can see that essentially, this is not a function of (a) shame campaign by which we improve our tax effort. It’s really by way of making the tax system more efficient,” he said.
He thus cited the need to sustain these improvements post-Duterte government “because most of the reforms are structural in nature and long term.”
“So, we don’t expect any back-pedaling (as) so far as this is concerned,” he added. (PNA)