Pimentel pushes bill enticing LGUs to help fight smuggling

January 17, 2014 11:57 pm 

MANILA, Jan. 17 – Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Friday pushed his proposed bill that would persuade the local government units (LGUs) officials to actively participate in the campaign against smuggling.

Pimentel said his Senate Bill 2987 dubbed bigger pie, bigger slice bill, aims to increase the shares and expand the base of what will be now known as the Shares in National Taxes (SNT) of Local Government Units (LGUs) that covers collections of all national taxes.

” The recurrent problem on smuggling which denied government of some P1.3 trillion in lost revenues in nine years (2002 to 2011) could be stopped with the active participation of local officials in the drive against big-time smugglers,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said his bill also seeks to fully and faithfully comply with the salutary aim and vision of the Constitution to sufficiently empower LGUs by granting them a just share in all forms of national taxes and not just the national internal revenue taxes collected by the government.

He said the bill will amend pertinent provisions of the law to include collections made by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) on customs duties, value-added tax (VAT) and excise taxes on imported goods in addition to all national internal revenue taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Pimentel said the allocation of IRAs is enshrined in the Constitution and mandated by Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991.

”And that local officials will be induced to exert extra efforts to curb smuggling in their areas of responsibility once they realize that their shares from the national taxes will increase because tax collections are done efficiently,” Pimentel said.

“The IRA does not flow from the generosity of the central government. Local officials will become active partners of the national government to stop smuggling and report tax cheats who evade payment of correct taxes once the bill becomes a law,” he added.

The lawmaker from Mindanao said local officials will become de facto partners of the national government in reporting cases of undervaluation, misdeclaration, misclassification and diversion of shipments.

”They will, then, help stop smuggling knowing that their collective shares from the taxes collected by the BOC will increase by the billions of pesos,” he said.

Smugglers, he said, will think twice before attempting to push through with their illicit trade because they know that local officials are watching them.

He added even high public officials colluding with known big-time smugglers of rice, petroleum products, cars and other high-value shipments would be dissuaded from the illegal activity knowing that they could be exposed by the vigilance of the local officials.

With its broadened powers and increased responsibilities, Pimentel said that LGUs operate on a wider scale, but more extensive operations entail additional costs that are made worse by the passage of several unfunded mandates that have added up to the accountabilities of local officials.

Pimentel wants to increase the shares of LGUs from the current 40 percent to 50 percent of all national taxes so that the enormous duties, responsibilities and accountabilities vested on LGUs are accompanied by reasonably adequate resources for them to effectively carry out their duties and functions.

The new measure will also broaden the scope and increase the volume of what will be known now as the SNT of LGUs because they will no longer be based only on national internal revenues but on all national taxes including those that are collected by the BOC.

As mandated by the Constitution, Pimentel said that the SNTs of the LGUs will remain to be automatically appropriated and released to enable them to efficiently deliver basic services to the people and perform other frontline activities.

“Being at the frontline of public service, the LGUs are generally regarded by the people as the government. Their victory is the victory as well of the national government,” said Pimentel, noting that the devolution process ended some powers of the central government over LGUs, but not their partnership and inter-dependence.

The Code, authored by Pimentel’s father former Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., made it a state policy for the LGUs to enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities and become effective partners in the attainment of national goals. (PNA)

FPV/JFM

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