Press Release
November 10, 2010

'Rationalize' Xmas give-aways of GOCCs/GFIs

Millions of taxpayers money could be further saved in "rationalizing" the annual Christmas gift-giving or give-aways handed out by government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs) to their valued public.

Sen. Ralph Recto yesterday said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) or even the Commission on Audit (COA) should issue guidelines on what Christmas give-aways and price range would be acceptable or reasonable in the face of a budget deficit of P325 billion this year.

Recto said the President could even issue an order "moderating" the Christmas gift-giving of GOCCs and GFIs in line with his government's austerity program.

"Even as I speak, most of the GOCCs and GFIs have already placed their annual bulk orders for Christmas give-aways with mind-boggling prices and quantities. We could save more from this if we would put premium on the Christmas spirit rather than the prices attached to it," Recto said.

Recto noted that some 45 GOCCs and GFIs will receive P22.387 billion in subsidies this year and "surely, a significant chunk of this would go to pay for the purchase of expensive Christmas corporate give-aways, on top of generous perks and salaries."

At this early, he said, a controversial GOCC is looking for suppliers of 50,000 umbrellas as Christmas give-aways for P9.125 million while many other state corporations are expected to follow suit.

Recto said the P9 million give-away budget could be channelled to feed hundreds of hungry families whose members would be roaming the streets during the Christmas eve while the more fortunate ones gather for the traditional Noche Buena.

"We are banning bling-blings and other jologs lifestyle in Malacanang but we're not stopping state enterprises from their wanton display of ostentatious give-aways," he said.

He stressed that the new government's gallant effort to curb indecent spending among GOCCs and GFIs in relation to fat pay check and perks received by their officials would come to naught if no "rationalization" is made on their Christmas gift-giving.

"Nobody says that government should play Scrooge during the Yuletide season. A simple hand-made, hand-written Christmas card made from recycled paper or a text message will do. It will convey the same warmth that a logo-bearing gift-item would do," Recto said.

He added: "Among satisfied and very dear clients, a simple handshake and a "Merry Christmas" during the Misa de Gallo would be more meaningful than the artificial glee that an expensive pen or coffee mug brings."

Recto said most often, corporate give-aways of GOCCs and GFIs are overpriced or padded and, in the process, used as a "budget trick" to bilk government funds in the guise of spreading the Christmas spirit.

He stressed that it is during this season that the unit price of coffee mugs, umbrellas, glossy calendars, ordinary ballpens, watches, corporate planners and jackets shoot up.

Ordinarily, a coffee mug with logo could be bought for P50/unit while a cheapest jacket with logo would only cost P500 or below. The rest of the "all-time favourite" Christmas give-aways such as daily planners and ballpens could be purchased 50 percent to 60 percent lower than the usual GOCC-quoted prices.

"The public which the GOCC and GFI cater to would not mind receiving un-shiny objects or not so cool gadgets this Christmas. They should understand that we are the government and not part of the affluent Top 100 big corporations," Recto said.

He also said there's a big possibility that previously-ordered Christmas give-aways bearing the likeness or name of President Aquino would not be distributed after Malacanang banned the use of President's photo on public information materials like billboards and immigration cards.

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