FINANCE Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno has expressed confidence that the government’s main collection agencies—the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC)—will hit their revenue targets for this year, amounting to a combined P3.17 trillion.
Diokno, however, told reporters that BIR is “slightly behind target” while BOC “exceeds its target largely due to higher oil prices and peso depreciation.”
The BIR and the BOC are tasked to collect P2.438 trillion and P733 billion this year, respectively.
The finance chief also confirmed that he recently met with officials from the BIR and the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), and he stressed the importance of collecting state revenues.
“BIR officials commit to better second-half performance. I expect this year’s revenue target will be met,” he said.
The Bureau of the Treasury has yet to release its latest Cash Operations Report for the first half of this year, but the BOC earlier said it had so far collected P396.8 billion as of end-June this year, equivalent to 54 percent of the adjusted target for the year.
As of end-May, the BIR collected P959 billion, up by 9.9 percent from P872.4 billion a year ago. This is equivalent to 39.3 percent of BIR’s revenue target for this year.
Following his meeting with BIR and BLGF, the finance chief said revenue agencies must collect taxes “efficiently and fairly,” adding that this can be achieved through digitalization to remove discretion, among others.
“Told them that I consider revenue collectors as essential workers. Revenues are essential for achieving the goals embodied in our medium-term fiscal framework,” he said.
However, Diokno said the issue of the unpaid Marcos estate tax— estimated at between P23 billion and P203 billion (with penalties) —was not taken up during their meeting.
“No, that was not discussed,” he said.
Last month, BIR Commissioner Lilia Guillermo said she would request President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to be a “role model” in paying taxes, although she said she needed to check the correct data and details on the Supreme Court’s 1997 ruling on the issue of the estate tax liability of the Marcos heirs which has already become “final and executory.”
State revenues are expected to hit P3.3 trillion this year while disbursements are projected to reach P4.95 trillion, resulting in a programmed budget deficit of P1.65 trillion or 7.6 percent of the country’s GDP.
A budget deficit occurs when expenditures exceed revenues. A smaller budget deficit reduces the government’s need to borrow money to finance its spending requirements.
Diokno has since expressed optimism that the government’s budget deficit-to-GDP ratio which has already ballooned to a record-high 8.6 percent of GDP last year will be reduced to around 3 percent by the end of the Marcos administration in 2028, as revenues continue to pick up annually.
To raise more government revenues, Diokno wants to improve tax administration on top of imposing taxes on digital services, single-use plastics, and carbon emissions, among others.
Diokno earlier expressed optimism these measures would be enough to raise the needed revenues for the country to outgrow its debt, adding that they are not in a rush to bring back the debt-to-GDP ratio to the record-low prepandemic level of 39.6 percent in 2019.
While the previous administration proposed new taxes to reduce the country’s debt as a share of the economy, Diokno has since said their strategy is to support the country’s economic growth which he expects to lead to more government revenues.