Philippine new finance chief vows to raise revenues, pursue tax evaders

16:15, July 01, 2010      

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Newly-appointed Philippine Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima is looking to increase tax effort ratio from 13 percent to 15 percent of the country's GDP by 2011 to support the government's anti-poverty programs.

"Without resources we will not be able to accomplish the social investments that are necessary to" reduce poverty, Purisima said in Thursday's press briefing.

Purisima said instead of raising new taxes, his department will focus on improving tax collection.

"We should try and improve first our efficiency. The effort in the past five years (was) very commendable and we want to build on the successes of (outgoing Finance) Secretary Margarito Teves," he said.

Purisima vowed the department will intensify efforts to pursue tax evaders, noting that this is not a "political" issue.

"We are not going on a witch hunt. For this to be credible we need to show this is a fair effort," he said.

Purisima said economic managers need to keep fiscal deficit to a manageable level of 2 percent of the GDP to provide more resources for social development projects such as infrastructure and food security. This is in line with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III's campaign promise to reduce poverty.

The Philippine budget deficit for this year is seen to hit 3.6 percent of GDP.

The finance department will continue with the privatization of state-owned assets, but Purisima said that they're doing this not to plug the deficit but to finance social investment.

"It is not healthy to use asset sale to cover a budget deficit. It is not sustainable. We'd like to put proceeds (from the asset sale) in social investments, in education, health care, agriculture and job creation," he said.

Source: Xinhua


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