Ruffy Magbanua /
WE can’t simply begrudge Big Business for making money — that’s the basis of their capitalist thinking, no debate about that. However, we get annoyed when Big Business hides under corporate rugs their tax obligation with the government. More so, when they deliberately manipulate their income in ways that are clearly not in the best interest of the government, but solely for their abusive practice of corporate greed.
The recent Malacanang order to investigate tax frauds of companies operating at the Phividec Industrial Estate comes in the time when the campaign against corruption is in full steam, rallying through the bureaucracies of both the government and the business sector.
The findings of tax delinquents inside the Phividec Industrial Estate was the first order of the day for the newly appointed Phividec director Benjo Benaldo.
Initially, Benaldo, to his great surprise, stumbled on some 80 private companies, including a coal-fired power plant, that allegedly deprived the government of an estimated P2 billion in back taxes.
In this case, Benaldo actually opened a Pandora’s Box full of worms of corruption at the Phividec.
And already, upon the recommendation of Benaldo, Phividec authorities issued notices of tax collection to all business delinquents operating within the industrial estate.
Armed with a marching order from Malacanang, Benaldo is hell bent on collecting the back taxes from Steag Power and several other companies. And if ever his order falls on deaf ears, Benaldo has no recourse but advise these firms to leave the Phividec Industrial Estate and settle elsewhere.
Another classic case of corporate greed is the alleged tax settlement of Del Monte Philippines Inc. with the Bureau of Internal Revenue which reportedly deprived the government of millions of pesos in tax revenues.
In fact, the alleged tax anomaly has necessitated two congressional committee hearings already on the BIR’s reported swift acceptance of a P65.4-million tax settlement from Del Monte to account for the firm’s tax deficiencies from 2011 to 2013 which the government agency originally valued at P8.7 billion.
The P65.4-million settlement was paid on Feb. 1 of this year, one day after the firm received the BIR’s Final Decision on Disputed Assessment on Jan. 31 for tax year 2013, along with Preliminary Tax Assessment for tax year 2011, and Final Assessment Notice (FAN) for tax year 2012.
Both BIR and Del Monte acknowledged it had taken years to come up with these assessments due to a combination of delays on both sides.
The crucial matter of why the settlement amount was much lower than BIR’s original assessment remains unclear at this point.
As long as corruption prevails in the bureaucracy, corporate greed likes to dwell in it. It takes two to tango really.
In this case, conjugal greed applies. Sigh.