Senator Win Gatchalian flagged unfilled positions and low salaries in the country’s tax-collecting agencies.
According to Gatchalian, the Department of Finance (DOF) had a total of 11,745 unfilled positions in 2022. Of this number, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) had a total of 7,724 unfilled positions while the Bureau of Customs (BOC) accounted for 2,761.
“This is a huge number considering that the BOC and BIR are tax-collecting agencies. I would assume that the more people they have, the more efficient that they will become and the more taxes that they can collect,” Gatchalian said, during a budget hearing for the DOF and its attached agencies.
“We don’t want a scenario wherein our tax-collecting agencies, among the most important government agencies, are being left behind. Another consequence of this is the temptation of corruption if lawyers and accountants receive very low salaries. It’s about time to address this,” he added.
The legislator urged the two agencies to submit their suggestions on which positions should be reclassified so that a more attractive compensation package could be offered.
BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui Jr. and BOC Deputy Commissioner Michael Fermin admitted the two agencies are having difficulty in hiring personnel such as lawyers and accountants as other agencies offer more competitive compensation packages.
“Our main problem is the difficulty in recruiting personnel considering the low salary that the BIR offers compared to other government agencies,” Lumagui said, specifying that the entry-level salary for an accountant is P27,000 and the entry-level salary for a lawyer is P46,725 compared to the P51,000 entry level in the Civil Service Commission.
To fill vacant positions, the BIR has adopted an easier hiring process where regional offices can hire employees on their own, and the approval of the commissioner is no longer required.
Still, Gatchalian emphasized that the two agencies do not stand a chance in hiring the best talents if their compensation packages are not even competitive with other government agencies.
“The basic consideration is the salary package. No matter how we improve the process, if the basic attraction or salary is low, then it’s going to be very difficult for government agencies to attract talent. This is an enforcement group, and we need to have industry-level packages at least so we can ward off temptations, attract the best talents, and improve credibility and integrity within the office,” he stressed.