By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Sen. Grace Poe chastised the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) during the hearing of the Senate committee on public services for not providing information on whether or not franchise applicants have been fulfilling their responsibility with the bureau, specifically if they have been diligently paying their taxes on time and in full.
Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, warned that the BIR’s lack of preparation would delay the action on the franchise applications the committee is evaluating, specifically the 16 telco applications, the 12 broadcast franchise applications, and the franchise renewal of Air Philippines Corp.
“Before we give a franchise to a company, we have to make sure that they have no liabilities. E kung may utang sa inyo?” Poe asked the BIR.
“This is the best way you can collect from them because they are applying for a franchise,” the senator added.
The committee required the attendance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), and the BIR during the hearing to vet the applicant’s performance and inform the panel on its compliance with regulations as well as violations. The franchise applications of those with violations of regulations of the SEC, NTC, and others are put on hold until their issues are resolved.
“The Senate is about to go on a break next week. As much as possible, we would like to finish our committee reports and hopefully take them up on the floor next week,” Poe said.
The panel chair stressed that the invitations for the hearing were sent out three weeks ago and resource persons were provided a list of the information that the committee would need.
“I hope the BIR is taking our hearings seriously,” Poe said. “I expect more participation and respect from the BIR because this is an actual public hearing. They should be able to assist the legislative because this is one of their functions,” she added.
Last year, Poe had already called out the BIR over the absence of its ranking officials at the committee hearing on the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act that the executive itself was also pushing for.