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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chiz warns vs more borrowing to ease budget gap

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday warned the government against auctioning the future of the country's youth by going on a borrowing spree to cover the widening budget deficit.

 "This government would rather borrow money rather than address the fundamental problem of poor revenue collections. This policy makes victims of the Filipino youth who will be the ones to shoulder these debts," he said.

The government's budget deficit from January to May this year has soared to P123 billion, as borrowings surged to 258.59 billion, up by 29.7 percent. Foreign loans reached P101.45 billion during the period, up 141 percent over the same period last year.

"The performance of our revenue collection agencies leaves much to be desired. While it is incumbent upon government to conduct pump-priming during the economic crisis, our leaders should be more prudent in fine-tuning the government stimulus plan, especially when it comes to borrowings," Escudero said.

"If the government is really sincere in its obligation to keep the economy afloat, it should pay particular attention to revenue collections. Why should the people bear the consequences of the government's poor performance in revenue collections?" he said.

During the same five-month period, collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have dropped by 6.6 percent while the tax take of the Bureau of Customs slipped by 7.4 percent, compared to that of 2008.

He said the government stimulus plan should also include concrete measures on curbing graft and corruption in government.

"If we talk about plugging loopholes and improving collections, then we must address the issue of graft and corruption squarely. Plugging collection loopholes by itself can already raise billions of pesos in additional revenues," the senator explained.

"This administration, by its policy of increased borrowings supposedly to address the budget gap, is admitting that it is easier and more convenient to just borrow money rather than clean house to boost revenues. This is a skewed national policy which is unacceptable," Escudero said.

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