MANILA-- Over a century after its inception during the Philippine Revolution, the Department of Finance (DOF) is once more at the center of a "revolutionary situation," this time entailing the rapid modernization of the country's infrastructure and the simultaneous overhaul of its tax policies to attain true economic liberation for Filipinos, Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Monday.
Speaking on the occasion of the DOF's 120th anniversary, Dominguez sought anew the swift passage of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) to ensure a "robust and recurrent" revenue stream that will let the government "stimulate the economy without sacrificing prudence."
If we are able to achieve a breakout, a shift to a higher plane of economic growth, the DOF should have played a truly revolutionary role, Dominguez told employees at the Department's flag-raising ceremony. We will help redefine what government can do. We will help liberate millions from poverty. We will shift our economy so that it becomes truly inclusive.
The DOF was founded on April 24, 1897 with Baldomero Aguinaldo as its first Director of Finance.
Dominguez said that like its predecessor in the Philippine revolutionary government, the current DOF can help the government accomplish this grand mission if it is infected with a certain degree of audacity.
We must test the limits. We must think out of the box. We must accomplish our tasks with zeal and determination, Dominguez said as he congratulated DOF employees for their good work and profound commitment to the good of the nation.
I urge all of you to continue working to improve the way we do things in this organization. Let us aspire to be at the cutting edge of modern governance. That will enable this agency to meet the great challenges we must surmount, he said.
Dominguez pointed out that the CTRP submitted by the DOF to the Congress less than 90 days after the Duterte administration took office aims to accomplish several things in one blow.
These include lowering personal income taxes to strengthen the purchasing power of consumers while encouraging investors to come in, and supporting the government's ambitious program to accelerate spending on infrastructure and social investments, especially in training a large demographic wave of young Filipinos to be globally competitive.
The CTRP, Dominguez said, would make sure the government could carry out these goals without endangering the country's fiscal sustainability.
In order to achieve our infrastructure goals, our fiscal policy needs to be expansive," he said. "While we may accept a certain level of deficits, those must be properly managed. A robust revenue stream will ensure that public borrowing will not spiral out of control.
This is the reason the comprehensive tax reform package must be passed. It will enable government to stimulate the economy without sacrificing fiscal prudence, he said.
Before the Lenten break of the Congress, the House Ways and Means Committee chaired by Rep. Dakila Carlo Cua already agreed in principle to tackle the CTRP bill as a package, which puts to rest concerns that the Congress might abandon the revenue-generating measures of the proposal and only pass the revenue-eroding portion, particularly the lowering of income tax rates.
Dominguez said the DOF finds itself today in "another revolutionary situation" where the government has a chance to shift our development to investment-led growth, dramatically reduce poverty rates and break out into a higher growth regime.
We find ourselves playing the key role in the economic breakout strategy adopted by this administration. We cannot afford to fail. The infra gap will be closed and government will be ready with its share of the funding, Dominguez said.
He said that, Public services will be expanded and government will underwrite it. We will invest as much in physical capital as in human capital. That is the way to a truly inclusive economy.
Besides ensuring fiscal stability, he said the DOF is also taking the lead in reducing government red tape to unclog the flow of investments into the economy and in modernizing the Department's procedures to incorporate the more extensive use of information technology.
He announced that the Department has recently been awarded ISMS 27001:2013 certification, which attests to the quality of its internal information technology use and ability to ensure information security within the DOF organization.
Source: Philippines Information Agency