POSTSCRIPT / July 5, 2007 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Supersolicitous dads ruining sons' careers

DOTING DAD: Being a father myself, I understand the concern of government officials going out of their way to shield their children in the bureaucracy from heavy criticism or the spectre of electoral defeat.

But while their spreading solicitous wings over the kids might be understandable, they may just be compounding their offsprings’ vulnerability by exposing ther being ill-prepared to take responsibility or to fend for themselves.

The boss of a gaming body casts aside budgetary constraints to buy victory for his children running for office. A senior senator picks a fight with the parents of his son’s rival for the last slot in the Senate. An ageing congressman butts in whenever his son in the Cabinet is criticized.

There are many more doting parents out there throwing civility to the wind to get juvenile members of the family out of critics’ line of fire or to get them elected to public office by any means, fair or foul.

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GARY AT 64: In a full-page advertisement, Negros Oriental Rep. Herminio Teves exposed his misguided paternal concern when he said, “It is outrageous and malicious for Mr. (Jose Mario) Buñag, former Congressman Prospero Pichay and newspaper columnist Federico Pascual to cry for Finance Secretary Gary Teves’ resignation as well.”

Hello, I don’t know about Mr. Buñag and ex-future senator Pichay, but this columnist does not remember demanding that the finance secretary resign. Teves may have lost his balance under the stress of raising millions for his embattled President, but I never asked for his resignation.

Maybe it is Gary’s father Miniong who needs retirement and a new pair of reading glasses. Sir, your son Gary is old enough to fight his own battles. After all, he will be an overripe 64 next month. Magpahinga na po kayo.

* * *

WEAKLING?: Another congressman, Iloilo Rep. Rolex Suplico, raised in 2006 objections in the Commission on Appointments to the confirmation of Margarito Teves as finance secretary.

Suplico said that Teves is a “weakling.” (Is that why his father always hovers above like a security helicopter?)

The Ilonggo solon asked why Teves did not stop the transfer of billions of the Government Service Insurance System from the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines to the private Union Bank. Gary Teves was then LBP president.

* * *

LOWER TARGETS: Two major newspapers, quoting a senior DoF official, reported that Teves’ department now plans to lower the collection targets of the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

What? After raising targets so Buñag could not reach them, then firing him for falling short, Teves would now lower targets so his new man at BIR would have easier sailing?

A DoF “tax audit” team said that the BIR under Buñag missed its collection target by P10 billion in January-May due to “inefficiencies.” It added that the department was giving up on the P10 billion uncollected taxes — in effect lowering the target.

Teves denied lowering targets. We do not know who is telling the truth, so we just have to watch them and the helicopter.

* * *

TEVES TRICK: The trick of lowering targets to meet collection goals seems to be a favorite of Teves, if Land Bank records are to be believed. He was Land Bank president from 2001 to 2005.

In 2001, the bank’s targeted total revenue was P21.499 billion from loans, investments, foreign exchange and other sources. The budgeted expenses — financial, manpower costs and other operating expenses — were placed at P17.408 billion.

Less provisions for losses and taxes, the Land Bank should net P1.5 billion.

The actual figures attained during the year were: P19.999 billion for total revenues (or 93 percent of target) while actual expenses were brought down to P13.933 billion (or only 80 percent of the projection).

This resulted in a bigger net income, before taxes and losses, of P1.508 billion, although the bank failed to attain its revenue goal.

* * *

BOOKING DELAY: In the next three years under Teves, the total income targets of the bank were lowered in 2002 to P21.250 billion, in 2003 to P19.135 billion, and in 2004 to P20.168 billion.

Actual revenues attained were P17.617 billion in 2002, P18.529 billion in 2003 (both below targets). But in 2004, the target was suddenly surpassed as the bank recorded P21.398 billion in revenues.

On the expenditure side, the targets were also lowered to P16.245 billion in 2002, P15.858 billion in 2003, and P15.968 billion in 2004. The actual expenses almost remained steady at P13.297 billion in 2002 and P13.506 billion in 2003, but suddenly ballooned to P17.349 billion in 2004 (an election year), exceeding its P15.968 billion target by 9 percent.

It appears that, under Teves, Land Bank was hitting the targets (revenues, expenses, and incomes) only by reducing them year-by-year.

Another interesting figure was the huge increase in expenses in Teves’ last year in 2004 by 28 percent. Was the booking of some expenses in 2001-2003 delayed to 2004, so the bank could hit its targets in those bad years?

* * *

MASSAGE: Here is another example of “performance massaging.” In 2006, Teves ordered the GSIS, the Development Bank of the Philippines and a private company (Globe Telecommunications) to pay their taxes in advance.

The three companies paid taxes due in 2007 one year earlier, amounting to some P12 billion. Since they advanced payments, the BIR did not collect from them during the first half of the year.

If the BIR booked those P12-billion advance payments as collection for 2007, the BIR would have overshot its target — and Buñag would have stayed. The BIR shortfall was only P9 billion in January-May.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 5, 2007)

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