Don’t tax daing, raise tax collection by lifting bank secrecy law instead: Pangilinan

MANILA – Instead of taxing salted food stuff like daing, government should raise tax collection by lifting laws on secrecy of bank deposits, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Sunday.

Citing the Department of Finance, Pangilinan said the national government has been unable to collect an estimated P668.34 billion in taxes and duties annually, or a third of the government’s annual tax collection, due to restrictive bank secrecy laws.

“Lifting such laws will ensure correct tax declarations as well as combat corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and other financial crimes. Kung nakokolekta sana ang ganitong halaga, madaragdagan pa lalo ang pondo para tulungan ang mga kapus-palad, makapagpagawa pa ng mga paaralan sa mga nakatira sa malalayong lugar, at makapagpapaabot ng dagdag tulong medikal sa mga maysakit (If we are able to collect this amount, we will have more funds to help the poor, build schools for those in far-flung areas, and provide medical attention to the sick),” said Pangilinan.

On curbing the ill effects of salt on health, the organic farmer-senator said: “Sa halip na magpataw ng buwis sa asin, kailangan ng edukasyon sa masasamang epekto ng asin (Education awareness of the ill effects of salt should be the emphasis rather than imposing a tax).”

In Senate Bill 634 or the Deposits Disclosure Act, all deposits of whatever currency with banks and non-banking financial institutions in the Philippines can be examined, inquired, or looked into under the following purposes:

· Upon written permission or waiver of depositor;

· Inquiry by the Office of the Ombudsman;

· Upon order of a competent court in relation to a case pending before it;

· Investigations by the Senate/House of Representatives;

· Investigations by any government agency or financial regulator including but not limited to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC), Insurance Commission (IC);

· Inquiry by independent auditors; and

· Inquiry on the account/s of a deceased depositor by his/her immediate family members or heirs

A penalty of at least three years and/or a fine of at least P200,000 will be imposed for refusal to disclose or report deposits or any abuse on the initiation, conduct, or use of any inquiry of the accounts.

“Hindi dapat magamit ng mga kriminal ang batas para itago ang kanilang krimen. Para sa transparency at accountability, panahon na para tanggalin ang bank secrecy laws sa ating bansa (Criminals should not be able to hide behind laws to shield their illegal activities. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, it is time to repeal the bank secrecy laws in the country),” Pangilinan said.