Press Release
October 4, 2015


The government has underspent by P623 billion since 2011 or more than 20 times the amount that finance officials estimate will be "lost" when income taxes are lowered, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said.

"How can opponents of tax reform claim that public services will suffer when the government can underspend that much, and in the same breath, tell us about the gains experienced under this administration?" Escudero said.

"If we can afford not to spend more than P600 billion, then we can afford to 'lose,' as the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) says, P30 billion, without sacrificing the people's welfare," he said.

Escudero said the belief that the budget is so tight it cannot accommodate tax cuts and that some government services will have to be slashed for the same, as Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas maintained, is a myth.

"Hindi dapat isakripisyo ang anumang serbisyo pampubliko tulad ng sinasabi ni Mar Roxas para magpatupad ng mas mababang buwis. Kung sinsero sya sa kapakanan ng taumbayan, may eleksyon man o wala, sana noon pa tumulong na sya sa paghahanap ng paraan. Maliwanag na malaking pera ang hindi nagugugol ng pamahalaan para sa serbisyo kaya't marapat lang na ibalik ito sa mamamayan," he said.

Escudero, who used to chair the Senate Committee on Finance, pointed out that in 2011, the government's budget was at P1.711 trillion but disbursed only P1.557 trillion, representing an underspending of P154 billion.

In 2012, underspending tapered to P62 billion based on actual disbursements of P1.778 trillion. The budget that year was P1.84 trillion.

In 2013, out of the P1.984-trillion budget, only P1.88 trillion was utilized, resulting in an underspending of P104 billion.

"It is not true that the government cannot accommodate tax cuts. The number one proof of this is that government underspending in the past years did not lead to its collapse. In fact, the government has even claimed success in its anti-poverty measures," said Escudero.

Last year, underspending was pegged at P303 billion, or 13 percent of the general appropriations for 2014.

The government saved P40.4 billion in personal services alone due to 133,145 unfilled government positions in 2013. On top of this, some P28.8 billion in personal services appropriation, which covers payroll and other compensation expenses, was not spent during the said year.

For 2016, projected unfilled positions will increase to 218,389, Escudero said.

"You can just imagine the savings accrued from what are essentially never-filled posts in the government. How can they say that lowering income taxes will result in unfunded social services? There is extra money that we can channel to essential services like health and education. The numbers don't lie," he said.

"You can cut without damaging any major artery of public service," Escudero said.

At the same time, the senator invited Executive and Legislative leaders to sit down together and identify "non-essential expenditures" that can be pruned from the national budget, so that together, the two branches of government can find ways to relieve millions of Filipinos of the burden of paying unjust taxes.

"Let's do some pencil-pushing. Let it be a non-political exercise, wala munang parti-partido, walang camera. If we can come up with the amount needed to cover the foregone government revenues from a tax cut, then we can announce and celebrate our success. That is, after all, what government branches are expected to do-work together," Escudero said.

According to Escudero, trimming the P27 billion annual expenses for professional, consultancy and security and cleaning services by five percent will free about P1.35 billion annually. Reducing government expenses for travel, office rentals and advertising will also contribute to savings.

With oil prices plummeting, there will be huge savings in gas, oil and lubricants purchases as well. In 2013, the government spent P6.5 billion for petroleum products when prices were almost twice as they are today.

"Kung pag-iisahin talaga ang bawat programa ng gobyerno, maraming mga gastusin ang pwedeng ilipat sa mas mahalagang paglalaanan o sa bulsa ng taumbayan sa pamamagitan ng buwis na di na kakaltasin," he said.

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