Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has congratulated his fellow workers in the Department of Finance (DOF) and its attached agencies for a “good job” done last year, which has led to significant progress in the tax reform packages it had endorsed to the Congress plus substantial gains in revenue collections and official development assistance (ODA) from the country’s development partners, among other accomplishments.
During the first DOF Executive Committee (Execom) meeting held this year, Dominguez also cited the successful bond issuances of the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), particularly the first-ever Premyo bonds sale that has encouraged unbanked Filipinos to save and invest, as well as the efforts of Undersecretary and Chief Economist Gil Beltran and the Department’s Domestic Finance Group (DFG) to update the public about the latest economic trends in the country.
He also commended the work of the DOF’s Revenue Operations Group (ROG) and the Corporate Affairs Group (CAG), both led by Undersecretary Antonette Tionko, for raising the cash dividend contributions of, and instilling fiscal discipline in, government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs); and the Privatization Group (Priva) led by Undersecretary Grace Karen Singson for its thorough review of state contracts and in getting the privatization program to move at a faster pace.
Dominguez also cited the Legal Affairs Group led by Undersecretary Bayani Agabin for supporting the DOF in the legal aspects of its tasks.
“First of all, I want to wish you a Happy New Year and congratulate you all for the good job done last year,” Dominguez said during the year’s first Execom meeting.
He said both the BIR and BOC “did a wonderful job” in 2019, and expects them to improve their performance even more, given the Philippines’ vibrant economic outlook in 2020.
Preliminary data show that both the BIR and BOC collected a total of P2.8 trillion in 2019. The BIR’s actual collections breached the P2 trillion mark in 2019 at P2.172 trillion, which is 93.2 percent of its collection target of P2.33 trillion for that year. The amount is 10.67 percent higher than the actual collection of 1.962 trillion in 2018.
The BOC, meanwhile, has collected P630.57 billion in 2019, representing 95.4 percent of its target of P661.04 billion. This is 6.32 percent higher than the BOC’s actual collection of P593.11 billion in 2018.
Dominguez pointed out that the DOF made significant progress in getting the remaining tax reform packages moving towards approval in the Congress, particularly the law imposing higher “sin” taxes on alcohol and tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.
“Of course, the IFG (International Finance Group led by Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven) also has done great strides in improving our relations with all our funders particularly the ADB (Asian Development Bank),” Dominguez said.
Earlier, Dominguez said at a DOF yearend event that the professionalism and dedication of all DOF employees enabled the Department do what was once thought impossible—which is to pursue policy reforms that have spelled a palpable improvement in the lives of the Filipino people as the government strives to build a robust and inclusive economy on the Duterte watch.
Among the DOF’s accomplishments in 2019 that Dominguez cited were the passage of the tobacco tax reform bill, the increased revenues from taxes and cash dividends remitted GOCCs, the progress in the remaining tax reform packages sent to the Congress, and the highly concessional loan financing sealed for projects under President Duterte’s signature program “Build, Build, Build.”
He also mentioned among the DOF’s accomplishments the credit rating upgrade of “BBB plus” by Standard and Poor’s (S&P) and the successful offshore issuance of bonds with tight spreads over the benchmarks, along with the collection of taxes from errant Philippine online gaming operators (POGO) service providers and their foreign employees.
The Finance chief said the Duterte administration is well on track in achieving what had seemed at first as an ambitious goal of bringing poverty incidence to 14 percent by 2022 down from 23.3 percent in 2015, as evidenced by official data showing that 5.9 million Filipinos were lifted out of poverty in three years. This means poverty incidence dropped to 16.6 percent in 2018 from the previous rate in 2015.