BIR shuffles top officers, boosts LTS

By VG Cabuag, Business Mirror

Posted at Feb 27 2009 10:48 AM | Updated as of Feb 27 2009 09:09 PM

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has shuffled its district officers nationwide and, at the same time, created seven more collecting divisions in a move to effect more efficiencies in its efforts and collect more taxes.

The reassignment orders came on the heels of an admission by economic managers that the revenue agencies face the challenge of collecting taxes in a year when businesses are impacted by the global slowdown and overall economic growth is seen anemic, prompting a scaledown of GDP growth projections.

According to a series of revenue assignment orders signed by BIR Commissioner Sixto Esquivias IV, with the approval of Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, some of the large collection points—or what the BIR calls Revenue District Offices (RDOs)—were split in two.

On the other hand, the Large Taxpayer Service (LTS), created for those big firms that remit more money than anyone else, is now being handled by Zenaida Garcia, who was promoted from regional director to assistant commissioner.

The reshuffle involved 141 BIR employees who hold management positions.

The three orders, released on Thursday, will take effect as soon as the officials turn over their responsibilities to their respective successors.

“Before leaving for their new assignment, they must comply [with necessary laws] regarding inventory of pending papers, correspondence and property responsibilities in their possession,” Esquivias said in the memorandum.

Esquivias, who started his career in the BIR as an examiner before going to private practice, earlier vowed to get rid of corrupt officials.

Last week he went on a hectic swing of key revenue areas, lending his presence to a well-publicized crackdown on businesses evading taxes and flouting other tax laws billed Oplan Kandado, a literal allusion to padlocking.

According to the shuffle orders, Pasig will now be split in two, RDO 43-A for East Pasig and RDO 43-B for West Pasig; while Muntinlupa and Las Piñas, previously combined, will each now have their own RDOs.

East Pasig will be headed by Rey Astero Tambis, and Pasig West, by Leida G. Buscaino.

Muntinlupa is now headed by Alejandro T. Polca, while Las Pinas is to be headed by Alexander P. Laroza.

Outside Metro Manila, Bulacan will now have two offices one—in Marilao and another in Plaridel— while Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Trece Martirez and Tarlac RDOs will also be split in two.

Orlando V. Chiu is to head Marilao RDO, Clavelina S. Nacar to Plaridel, James R. Ferrer to South Nueva Ecija, and Madelya T. Sactuli to North Nueva Ecija,

The reshuffle, which has been expected since Esquivias took over the BIR’s top post late last year, is in accordance with the Lateral Attrition Law, a carrot-and-stick approach to force BIR and Bureau of Customs to perform or be axed.

Under the law, BIR and BOC officials who fall short of their collection targets by at least 7.5 percent will be dismissed from service.

Those who perform, on the other hand, would be given a collective cash incentive depending on the excess of the collection of the agency.

BIR, where two-thirds of the income of the national government comes from, has lowered its 2009 revenue target to P915 billion against an original plan of P968.3 billion.

There are already calls to review such collection figure as a result of the slowing down of the economy.

Last year, BIR may have missed its target collection of P845 billion by about P60 billion after it posted a huge deficit in its monthly collection goal for the month of December 2008.

On Wednesday, the Arroyo administration’s economic team announced a recalibrated macroeconomic goal, consistent with the latest projections given the global economic slowdown.

Teves recomputed his fiscal program to reflect lower-than-previous revenue collections totaling only P1.302 trillion instead of P1.365 trillion, against a backdrop of significantly higher disbursements this year reaching at least P1.479 trillion instead of only P1.467 trillion originally.

As a result, the budgetary shortfall seen originally at only P102 billion this year was allowed to bloat to P177.2 billion and equal to 2.2 percent of GDP instead of only 1.2 percent of GDP.

Teves’s fiscal program this year assumes that the BIR, which fell behind its collection program last year, should collect no more than P865.6 billion instead of P910.8 billion.