ADB backs move away from ‘pa­per-based’ SALN ad­min­is­tra­tion

Business World - - The Economy - Eli­jah Joseph C. Tubayan

THE ASIAN De­vel­op­ment Bank (ADB) called for more au­to­ma­tion in mon­i­tor­ing of­fi­cials’ wealth in co­or­di­na­tion with banks and land reg­istries, and af­firmed the need to main­tain the re­quire­ment for civil ser­vants to file State­ments of As­sets, Li­a­bil­i­ties and Net Worth (SALN).

“While the SALN ad­min­is­tra­tion in the Philip­pines has an enor­mous pa­per-based work­load associated with it, and the rate of pros­e­cu­tion is low, it is bet­ter to have it than not. Within the ex­ist­ing frame­work, im­prove­ments to the sys­tem could be made through au­to­ma­tion and data match­ing with banks, prop­erty reg­istries, and other third par­ties, much like a tax ad­min­is­tra­tion does to de­tect risk in tax­pay­ers,” it said.

“If such sys­tems’ func­tion­al­ity within a tax au­thor­ity al­ready ex­ists for tax­pay­ers’ wealth checks, it could be ex­tended to the fi­nan­cial af­fairs of tax of­fi­cials,” the ADB added.

It added that tech­ni­cal train­ing pack­ages for Philip­pine rev­enue of­fi­cials should also ad­dress man­age­ment skills, apart from up­grad­ing their core rev­enue­gen­er­at­ing skills.

“Cor­po­rate ser­vices such as hu­man re­sources and train­ing within a tax au­thor­ity are of­ten over­looked when tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance is pro­vided, with em­pha­sis on rev­enue-pro­duc­ing ar­eas such as au­dit, col­lec­tion, ICT (in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy), or in­deed, tax pol­icy ar­eas such as ex­pand­ing the tax base, ra­tio­nal­iz­ing in­cen­tives/ ex­emp­tions, and chang­ing rates,” the ADB said in a re­port, “Tax and De­vel­op­ment Chal­lenges in Asia and the Pa­cific.”

“Apart from tech­ni­cal skills, it is equally im­por­tant to pay at­ten­tion to ‘soft skills,’ such as com­mu­ni­ca­tion, lead­er­ship, and strate­gic plan­ning, which are vi­tal to the suc­cess of a tax au­thor­ity,” it added.

The re­gional lender pro­vided a $1 mil­lion tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance loan in 2013 to help raise tax rev­enue.

The pro­gram, which ADB de­scribed as “suc­cess­ful,” helped the Bu­reau of In­ter­nal Rev­enue (BIR) es­tab­lish a new staff train­ing sys­tem for newly-re­cruited of­fi­cials.

It pro­vided as­sis­tance on international best prac­tices for staff train­ing and tax ad­min­is­tra­tion; a train­ing strat­egy and medi­umterm train­ing plan; the train­ing of lec­tur­ers, and new train­ing cour­ses for re­cruits.

“There is considerable value to be re­al­ized from in­vest­ment in the train­ing func­tion, in terms of do­mes­tic rev­enue mo­bi­liza­tion,” it said.

It also noted the train­ing func­tion can “pro­mote mes­sages of anti-cor­rup­tion, de­sired be­hav­ior, and ethics,” which could be in­cor­po­rated into man­age­ment train­ing and ex­ist­ing cour­ses.

The gov­ern­ment in Fe­bru­ary launched the Philip­pine Tax Acad­emy (PTA) for tax col­lec­tors and ad­min­is­tra­tors and se­lected ap­pli­cants from the pri­vate sec­tor.

Repub­lic Act No. 10143 of 2009 states that all ex­ist­ing of­fi­cials and per­son­nel of the Bu­reau of In­ter­nal Rev­enue, Bu­reau of Cus­toms, and the Bu­reau of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Fi­nance shall be re­quired to un­dergo the “re­tool­ing and en­hance­ment sem­i­nars and train­ing pro­grams to be con­ducted by the Philip­pine Tax Acad­emy” and that all ap­pli­cants to these bu­reaus should “pass the ba­sic cour­ses be­fore they can be hired whether on con­trac­tual or per­ma­nent sta­tus.” —

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