SEN. Francis "Chiz" Escudero has cautioned the Department of Finance (DoF) against the imposition of new taxes or increasing the existing rates to generate more government revenues.
The senator on Monday described the plan as "burdensome" to the Filipino people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the government should be "sensitive to the hardship that is being experienced by the public amid the spiraling prices of food, fuel and electricity against the backdrop of the prolonged adverse impact of the pandemic."
"It is always easier to go for imposing new or increasing whatever existing taxes in order to raise revenues for the government," Escudero said in a statement.
"However, this is burdensome and is not in keeping with the times. There is slow economic growth, increased unemployment and rising inflation," he said.
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Instead of the planned new taxes, Escudero urged Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno to strengthen the tax collection system by "plugging the loopholes and stepping up the fight against corruption" within the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
"I think the first order of business for the new finance secretary is to plug the loopholes, clean up and make collection of existing taxes and duties by the BIR and the BoC," he said.
"With nearly P200 billion in uncollected taxes lost to either corruption or inefficiency, this is by far more than any projected revenue of the new taxes he is mulling," Escudero explained.
Diokno announced that the Marcos administration is considering taxing single-use plastics and online purchases, including subscriptions to streaming apps like Netflix, to raise the much-needed resources to sustain government expenditures, pay the country's multimillion-dollar loans, and fund economic recovery programs and infrastructure projects.
In previous interviews, Escudero said that aside from fighting corruption and improving the country's collection efforts, the government should also consider selling and privatizing its non-performing assets.
He also proposed maximizing the public-private partnerships (PPP) to fund infrastructure development.
"There are ways to free up fiscal space for debt payments, instead of immediately looking at new taxes. PPP is the way to go," Escudero said.
"For the long term, the government should exert more effort into eliminating corruption," he said.