Press Release
October 2, 2006

Drilon urges Malacañang : Spend wisely, improve tax
collection to reduce P5.5 T national debt

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Franklin M. Drilon today urged Malacañang to improve tax collection and implement austerity measures to address the ballooning national debt now pegged at a whooping P5.5 trillion.

"In our population of 84 million Filipinos, this means each and every Filipino, including their grandchildren, now owes P64,000," Drilon said.

"I am urging Malacañang to minimize our deficit. We have a deficit of P63 billion for 2007. We will again borrow P63 billion in order to fund this deficit because our collection will be short by about P63 billion. While it is reduced substantially, still, P63 billion will add to our national debt of P5.5 trillion and will add to the burden of our countrymen," Drilon said.

Drilon learned of this economic picture during the continuation of the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) briefing on the proposed P1.126 trillion budget for 2007, attended by members of the President's economic team.

"I would strongly suggest that we enforce a better tax collection. Right now, our tax collection effort is only about 16.67 % of GDP. In 1997, we reached 19.44% of GDP. By just adding 1% in our tax collection effort, we would be able to balance our budget. Therefore, we no longer need to borrow another P63 billion," Drilon said.

"If we just tighten a little bit and increase our collection effort, we should be able to balance our budget faster. Therefore prevent an additional burden to our countrymen," Drilon added.

Drilon also proposed reduction of expenses, particularly the non-productive items in the budget, like the confidential and intelligence funds, which amounts to P1.2 billion of the budget.

"There are agencies, which do not really need confidential and intelligence funds and yet, they have inserted this in their budget. We intend to examine this closely and drastically cut the intelligence funds," Drilon said.

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