This is from a column originally published in the Edge Davao, a Mindanao based daily, on July 8, 2018. This is part one of a series of three columns which can be read on www.edgedavao.net
BACOLOD CITY .It is always too convenient to judge a program’s effectiveness on the inconvenience it causes, as it is also difficult to understand the long term benefit such a program may bring.
Tax reforms are one such program. They are not easy for common people to understand, yet the impacts and benefits on them will be felt in the short and long term.
We remember, how, a few years back, how our high personal income tax rates (30%) were almost a campaign issue, as they were southeast asia’s highest.
People complained that despite these high rates compared to their counterparts in Singapore, they felt shortchanged by government that failed to deliver on basic services.
This complaint is clear in the fact that they who parted with a third of their income had to contend with what were then long lines in passport and drivers license renewals and frequent MRT breakdowns.
These old irritants, at least are now addressed.
Add to that free state college tuition and most recently, the school feeding program and a nationwide 911 emergency management system, a decisive Marawi victory and a Boracay clean up may make people feel that their taxes are working for them.
These programs may have thus gained more trust in go ernment and its capability to deliver needed change. The most recent Publicus Asia survey in Luzon shows that trust in government is higher than that of NGOs and media. (http://www.resurgent.ph/articles.aspx?)id=395
Other surveys such as that of the Social Weather stations show that 64 percent approve of the Boracay closure. https://www.sws.org.ph/swsmain/artcldisppage/?artcsyscode=ART-20180630205103.
There are other surveys showing how local communities feel safer as they are less victimized by crime.
These responses evoke the feeling that “our taxes are working for us”. This a powerful message that will rebuild the President’s political capital going into the midterm elections. Likewise, it raises expectations that other reforms are possible, and that taxes will be needed to fund these changes.
On the other hand, this will also mean great difficulties for an oposition that remains fixated on innuendo and the hope of among others, that the President signs that “damned waiver” and ” resigns”.
Unable to challenge these reforms and other changes, they are left to fixate themselves on these frail hopes and the chance to scrutinize his manner of speech and dress. All, while tougher reform measures will continue.