Saturday, November 20, 2004

NR1115: Congress railroading lateral attrition bill

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release November 15 , 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Celphone number 09213907362

Congress railroading approval of lateral attrition law, measure up for voting
tomorrow only after 2 plenary hearings

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that the House of
Representatives was railroading the lateral attrition bill (HB2996) despite the
countless technical and legal flaws in the proposed measure. "In exchange for
what, we don't exactly know yet. What is most definite, however, is Malacanang
is breathing down Congress' neck to approve this draconian measure," he said.

He urged fellow legislators to thumb down the bill authored mainly by
Representatives Danilo Suarez, Imee Marcos, Mauricio Domogan, Francis
Nepomuceno, Jesli Lapus, and Rolando Andaya Jr. among others. The bill is
titled "An Act Providing for Optimum Performance in Revenue Collection through
the Grant of Special Incentives and Rewards for Exemplary Service and through
Lateral Attrition in revendue generating agencies of the government and for
other purposes."

"It has no merits whatsoever. The very premise that employees are to blame for
low collections is very unjust. It's obvious that the real objective of the
bill is to overhaul the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Custom
(BOC) and the 20 other agencies it targets and prepare them for full
privatization. The BIR and the BOC are two agencies that generate income for
the national government, but they're both being targeted for privatization
which will translate to even massive losses for the government," he said.

The proposed LAL (lateral attrition law) passed second reading last week after a
marathon session that lasted till 2:30 am. Beltran said that it was very evident
that Malacanang was pressuring congressmen and women to immediately approve the
bill. " The LAL and its twin bill on tax amnesty are among Malacanang's
eight priority measures that will provide a bandage-type cure to the fiscal
hemorrhage; but both are severely works against government employees and the
even the economy itself," he said.

Beltran said that the LAL was inherently biased against government employees,
and violates civil service regulations protecting job security and the right of
employees to due process. Ina nutshell, LAL is the transfer in post or
assignment and/or separation from government service of internal revenue or
customs officials/officers/employees and collection
officials/officers/employees of other revenue-generating units, who do not meet
their respective revenue or collection goals for the year.

"The very definition of lateral attrition reveals how anti-employee it is. It
blames and takes action against individual employees against the collective
failure of the agency to meet collection targets. How can lateral attrition be
in accordance with civil service regulations when the premise is already
established: low collections means re-assignment or lay-off? There is no rule
in the civil service code that states that the poor performance of the
government agency justifies the arbitrary lay-off of its employees," Beltran
pointed out.

Beltran said that proponents of the bill are justifying the bill as a rewards
and punishment bill, "But this carrot-and-stick tactic is mostly stick, and the
carrot is non-existent. The trend in collections in the BIR and BOC os always
low, and it is not at all the fault of the employees. Collections will always
be low so long as the BOC and the BIR are forced to work within the
government's system of allowing big tax perks and exemptions to big businesses
and investors; and so long as the internal workings of the agencies are
influenced and directed by IMF-WTO guidelines on taxations, tariffs etc," he

" What Congress should do is assess the agencies' programs and policies and
collection targets, and overhaul them - get to the true root of low
collections: deep-seated corruption in the higher offices and more crucial, the
IMF and WTO imposed policies dictating the operations of the agencies."

Millions of revenues are being lost from the fiscal incentives - outright tax
exemptions, income tax holidays, tax credits and reduced taxes for firms and
industries. The national government itself says that all these incentives are
worth at least P741B in the last five years, and P175B for the year 2003 alone.
The biggest beneficiaries of these exemptions are the tax and duty exemptions
(P152B) and income tax holidays (P5B) granted to export processing zones. #


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