give me back my taxes

I’ll tell you, Dave. I’ve been over this stuff a bunch of times. It just doesn’t add up. Who does these books? I mean, if I ran my business this way, I’d be out of business.

The quote above is from the movie Dave. Dave Kovic played by Kevin Kline runs a temp job agency with a side job as a stand-in for the President of the United States. When the real President suffers a stroke, Dave is asked to continue to impersonate the President to cover up the President’s condition. While impersonating the President, Dave brings in his accountant-friend, Murray Blum (played by Charles Grodin) to make some sense out of the US Budget. Blum quips about his impression of the budget after going through it several times.

filipino_child_watching.jpgIf one were to seriously go over the Philippine budget, I am sure many would feel the same way. Many would share the following sentiments:

– some of our money is being stolen

– not all of our money is spent wisely

– we are paying for things that we shouldn’t be paying for

– the government has enough money to fund real priorities if it chooses to do so

– there is enough money to give some of it back to taxpayers.

In 2012, individual taxpayers paid about P222 billion in taxes. This is about 20% of the P1 trillion that the BIR collected from all sources last year. The funds collected by the BIR accounted for 2/3 of all government revenues which was P1.53 trillion. Contrast this with the P1.77 trillion that the government spent in the same year. In simple terms, gumastos ang gobyerno ng P1.77 trillion ngunit ang kita ay P1.53 trillion kaya nagkaroon tayo ng deficit o pagkukulang na P242 billion. Sa negosyo – LUGI! Para mapuno ang pagkukulang, ang gobyerno natin ay nangutang ng pera.

Madali talaga mawala ang pera kung TRILLION, TRILLION na ang pinag-uusapan.

So why exactly can’t our government live within its means. Cutting P242 billion from the national budget represents a reduction in spending of 13.6%. Is there no way to find P242 billion from our budget to cut? Take the following:

a. We spent (budgeted) P353 million combined for the Philippine Sports Commission, the Gaming and Amusement Board and the Philippine Racing Commission. Is there a way where we can combine some of their functions and eliminate duplication?

b.  We have two legislative bodies which were budgeted a total of P8.6 billion. Why do we need 2 (under)performing bodies?

c. Other areas where we could do better:

– Parole and Probation Administration (P450 million)

– Philippine Textile Research Institute (P51 million)

– Science Education Institute (P1.4 billion)

– Technology Application and Promotion Institute (P84 million)

– Inter-Country Adoption Board (P25 million)

– Office of Transportation Cooperatives (P15 million)

– Office for Transportation Security (P36 million)

– Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (P293 million)

– Budgetary support to government corporations (P22 billion)

– Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund (P109 billion)

– PAMANA Fund (P1.8 billion)

– Unprogrammed Fund (P153 billion)

These are but a sampling of areas of government spending which could stand some explanation. I am sure there are a lot more.

When we pay our taxes, there is an implicit compact between the government and its citizens about the use of the money. The government does not own the moneys reposited to it by the people rather government acts as a mere conduit to spend the money for services that benefit the taxpayers. The money is not for the use of government per se because the money is not theirs.

It has become very obvious that this pact has been broken by government. If government has lost sight of why they are entrusted with these funds, then they must return these to the taxpayers who might just know better how to use their own money.

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