By LLANESCA T. PANTI, GMA Integrated News
Low salary for Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) personnel has resulted in over 7,000 unfilled positions in the agency, BIR Commissioner Romeo Lumagui told senators during a budget hearing on Monday.
Lumagui made the response when asked by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian why the BIR has 7,724 unfilled positions as of the end of 2022.
“Our main problem is that there is difficulty in recruiting personnel due to lower salaries compared with other government agencies’ lawyers and accountants,” Lumagui told the Senate Committee on Finance during the hearing on the Department of Finance’s (DOF) proposed P24.7-billion budget for 2024.
“It is not competitive,” he added.
The BIR, whose proposed 2024 budget is at P14.94 billion, is an attached agency under the DOF.
Lumagui said in BIR offices in the provinces, monthly entry level salary for accountants and lawyers is only P27,000, way lower than the P51,000 in the Civil Service Commission (CSC).
“Also, those in the provinces want to work here in Metro Manila. These are the challenges that we are having. Increasing salaries to be competitive with other government agencies will greatly help,” he said.
Lumagui, however, said the BIR is now streamlining the process wherein the hiring of personnel for regional offices will be done by the regional offices and would not need the BIR Central Office’s approval.
“We are having problems and we are doing our best to fill in these positions, be active in recruiting. We have already published [hiring for] the 1,547 positions, of which 607 was made this year,” he said.
Gatchalian and Senator Sonny Angara backed BIR’s call for higher salaries, saying a competitive pay is critical to have an efficient tax collector.
“This is a tax collecting agency. They need more people to be efficient in collecting taxes. It is very hard to attract talent or to ward off temptation [of committing corruption in that situation]. We need to attract the best talent to improve efficiency within the office,” Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, said.
“The government needs revenue. Without revenue, it would be pointless to discuss how we will spend it,” he added.
Asked by Angara if the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) would favor a salary increase for BIR personnel, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno answered in the affirmative.
“We really need reclassification of a collector [in terms of Salary Grade] because a [tax] collector has no comparable position in other government agencies,” Diokno said.
“They can make a request to Secretary Menah that we reclassify [Salary Grade of] tax collector, and I believe she would look at this with favor,” Diokno added, referring to Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman. —KBK, GMA Integrated News