Tuesday, March 25, 2008

KGMA 3/25/08

President Arroyo's Opening Statement during a meeting of the National
Price Coordinating Council with the NEDA-Cabinet Group

I'd like to call this National Price Coordinating Council and NEDA-
Cabinet Group meeting to order.

Please sit down so I can make a few opening remarks for this and for
the next meeting.

Nalulungkot tayo, ang sambayanang Pilipino, sa karamdaman ni dating
Pangulong Aquino. Siya ang nanguna sa ating bansa sa mapayapang
pagbabago. Ipinanalalangin natin siya, ang paggaling niya at ang
katatagan ng kaniyang pamilya.

Mga kababayan, matapos ang dalangin at sakripisyo ng Mahal na Araw,
kailangan bumalik agad tayong lahat sa trabaho. Ngayong umaga,
magpupulong ang NEDA-Cabinet Group kasama ang National Price
Coordinating Council upang lalong paigtingin ang mga pagkilos mula pa
noong isang taon upang mabawasan ang pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin.

The global economy is facing significant challenges. These global
forces are putting more strain on our working poor as prices for
commodities like rice and fuel increase. We are a price-sensitive
nation.

Kaya naman pinulong natin agad ang Gabinete at Price Coordinating
Council para sa anumang aksiyong kailangan pa upang laging sapat ang
pagkain. Hinihiling natin sa mga tindero na huwag magtaas ng presyo
dahil lamang may nagsasabing may krisis.

The Secretary of Agriculture is staking out all NFA warehouses so he
can follow the big 10-wheeler trucks and see where they are bringing
rice. I'm instructing the NBI to assist him in doing this.

He's investigating all warehouses, watching them, re-licensing them.
He shall hit the hoarders.

Patuloy ang iba pa nating pagkilos upang pigilin ang pagtaas ng
gastusin. Nagpapasalamat tayo sa Manila Water, Maynilad at Meralco sa
kamakailan pagsunod sa ating panawagan na bawasan ang singil sa
mahihirap na pamilya. At nagagalak tayo sa paghinto ng welga at taas-
pasahe ng pampublikong sasakyan matapos nating iutos na huwag paulit-
ulit na tikitan ang mga tsuper ng mga local governments. Dapat
magtulungan tayong lahat laban sa pagmahal ng bilihin.

Magpupulong din mamaya ang National Security Cabinet Group, kasama ng
NEDA, Bureau of Customs at BIR upang pataasin ang koleksiyon ng buwis
at sugpuin ang smuggling.

Our revenue target for this year according to Secretary Teves is
P1.236 trillion broken down as follows: BIR P845 billion, BOC P254
billion, Treasury P57 billion, and other offices P80 billion, P30
billion of which is privatization.

We recently signed a letter of instructions to the DOF, the BIR and
Customs to propose a government-civil society body similar to the
Procurement Transparency Group, to monitor collection efforts, gather
lifestyle and corruption information, and follow up major evasion or
smuggling cases, the latter in close coordination with the
Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group.

The PTG version in Customs shall be called PORTAL or Ports
Transparency Alliance. The mode for partnership shall be defined by a
Framework of Cooperation to Undermine Smuggling or FOCUS which will
define the duties and responsibilities of the Bureau of Customs and
the partner trade, businessmen, church, civil society groups which
will monitor a particular smuggling-prone commodity like oil, which
shall be called OilWatch and foodstuffs under AgriWatch.

The alliance should follow product lines as there exist a bilateral
anti-smuggling relationship between the BOC and the likes of
PHILSUCOM and the Sugar Alliance on sugar led by Governor Joe Zubiri;
the tile manufacturers of ceramics; there's a petrochemical alliance
on resins; PHILCEMCOR on cement. The idea is to build on these
institutional linkages but give them a shot in the arm by expanding
membership to include churchmen, fair trade advocates, and proponents
of trade facilitation or anti-red tape.

These alliances shall be federated into the overarching PORTAL
without, however, losing the independence and the initiative of the
anti-smuggling compact of the BOC and trade associations. What is
important is to provide civil society a peephole into Customs
operations but in a way that won't disrupt the main job of raising
revenues which might be disrupted if excessive oversight powers are
delegated to the private sector. Selection of outside lifestyle
checkers shall be done carefully to avert witchhunt.

PORTAL shall also undertake downstream activities by plugging
smuggling from the demand side, by asking consumers to boycott
smuggled goods -- "When the buying stops, the smuggling does, too."
This shall dovetail with the Buy Philippine Made Campaign by domestic
manufacturers. PORTAL shall highlight technology-aided revenue
enhancement measures, such as X-ray and computerization, and other
interventions that reduce personal contacts in transactions which in
turn give discretionary powers to revenue officers.

The PORTAL program shall be for immediate implementation.

The PTG-like formation for BIR shall be called Partnership for a
Transparent and Efficient Revenue Service or PARTNERS, a name that
captures our vision for a principled and productive collaboration
between the government and those that provide the lifeblood for its
operations. If we believe that taxation without representation is
tyranny, we likewise believe that citizen representation in taxation
is also a democratic ideal.

We count on our civil society partners to help us remind our people
that taxes are the membership dues of citizens. In return, taxes paid
shall be rebated in the form of public services. The citizens will
get their rebates in kind, in terms of new infrastructure, peace and
order, and education for all. But this can only proceed from
voluntary tax obedience, which we encourage by ensuring that every
one pays their share as fixed by laws and not fixed by men.

Ito ang landas na ating lalakarin sa mga taong darating. Tututukan
natin ang mga programang pang-imprastraktura at pangmasa, at hindi
magpapalihis sa pamumulitika. Samantala, kikilos ang mga institusyon
ng hustisya -- ang Ombudsman, ang Kagawaran ng Katarungan, ang mga
hukuman, upang siyasatin at hatulan ang mga paratang ayon sa
katibayan at bantay ng taong bayan. Sa ganitong paraan matatamo natin
ang kaunlaran, kapayapaan, katotohanan at katarungan sa ating bayan.

Maraming salamat at Mabuhay ang sambayanang Pilipino!

No comments: