House leaders seek higher pay for BIR employees to ward off corruption

By on February 18, 2017


House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has filed a bill that seeks to provide higher compensation for employees of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to curb corruption and beef up its workforce. (Photo: Bureau of Internal Revenue Philippines/Facebook)
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has filed a bill that seeks to provide higher compensation for employees of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to curb corruption and beef up its workforce. (Photo: Bureau of Internal Revenue Philippines/Facebook)

MANILA—House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has filed a bill that seeks to provide higher compensation for employees of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to curb corruption and beef up its workforce.

House Bill No. 4973, which was authored by Alvarez and ways and means committee chair Rep. Dakila Cua, aims to exempt BIR employees from the coverage of the Salary Standardization Law or Republic Act 6758.

RA 6758 sets a uniform salary rate for all government employees with the exemption of state-owned corporations and financial institutions such as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The two lawmakers noted that the revenue agency is hounded by deep-seated corruption and many cases have been filed against its erring officials and personnel.

“However, for true reform to happen, corruption should be addressed at its roots — low salaries and the lack of incentives that target the need of BIR personnel,” Alvarez said.

“If wages are too low for revenuers to support themselves and their dependents, the more likely they are to engage in corrupt behavior,” he added.

The House leaders also want to professionalize the ranks of revenue officials and employees and offer room for career growth.

Retaining high-performing employees has been difficult for tax authorities since career progression is lacking.

Alvarez cited that promotion to Attorney III and higher positions is limited due to small number of available plantilla positions. And for those in these positions already, they can only hope promotions if they become Assistant Chiefs (Attorney IV) or Chiefs (Attorney V).

“As a result, in recent years, there has been a steady outflow of professionals and technical personnel in the Bureau,” Alvarez said.

Under the bill, the BIR is authorized to formulate its own compensation and position classification system, which ensures just pay and equitable wages for BIR personnel under the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.

Likewise, the compensation should be generally comparable with those in the private sector and in accordance with minimum wage laws.

The new system shall be determined through a comprehensive audit of actual duties and responsibilities of BIR officials and employees.

There should also be a periodic review of government compensation rates, taking into account the performance of the Bureau, its overall contribution to the national economy, and the possible erosion in purchasing power due to inflation and other factors.

In addition to the new pay system, the bill also allows the Bureau to provide for other incentives to its personnel not provided under existing laws and Civil Service Laws, subject to the approval of the President.

Once approved by the President, the new compensation and position classification system will apply to all positions in the BIR. However, it prohibits any cut in the authorized pay of incumbent employees of BIR as of Dec. 31, 2016.