Increasing Local Government Revenue Through Institutional and Structural Reforms – Computer Program and Techno

Introduction
The local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines raise their own income from taxes, aside from a proportionate share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) that is appropriated by the national government. Section 129 of the Philippines Local Government Code of 1991 provides that local governments have the authority to raise their own revenue by collecting taxes on real property, transfer of real property ownership, printing and publication, franchise, profession, amusement or rest and recreation, on sand, gravel, and other quarrying activity, and on delivery truck or van.Records of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) of Bulacan showed that the province generated revenue amounting to P1.16 Billion for fiscal year 2004. Bulacan is ranked second among other provinces that have recorded the highest income. The rank is a slot higher from Bulacan’s position in 2003. Bulacan was also recognized as the third highest collector of Real Property Tax (RPT) among the provinces. Bulacan has consistently exercised its local taxing mandate to increase revenue collection.In the published Commission on Audit (COA) Report (Bulletin Today, 29 Sept. 2007), Bulacan ranked first among the Provinces of the country with the Highest Gross Income at 1,717,600.00 pesos, and ranked Third with the Highest Net Income at 368,180,000.00 pesos for the year 2006.Tax Collection PerformanceReal Property Tax (RPT) collection has maintained consistently, on the average, between P90 Million to P154 Million from 1999 to the 2005. Except in 2002, when the Real Property Tax Information System (RPTIS) started to become fully operational and was perceived to have contributed to the collection of P140.7 Million in that same year.Tax collection on printing and publication has been increasing from 1999 to 2005. Records of Provincial Assessment and Treasury Office (PATO) of the Province of Bulacan showed that the amount of collection quadrupled during the first semester of 2005 to P121.1 T from its 1999 value of P15.4 T. The average collection from 1999 to 2001 is P16.9 T. For years 2002 to 2004, average collection is P49.8 T; for the first semester of year 2005, the average is P64.07 T. Tax collection on franchise in 1999 has amounted to P3.4 M, as reflected by the records of PATO; but the same amount increased six times during the first semester of 2005 at P21.6 M. The average collection for 1999 to 2001 is 24 Million Pesos. For years 2002 to 2004, the average collection is 40.06 Million pesos. For the first semester of year 2005, the average is P21.6 M.Fluctuating movements in the collection of professional tax from 1999 towards the first semester of 2005 are reflected in the records of PATO, from 1999 to 2001. The collection average is P1.11 M. For the years 2002 to 2004, the collection average is P1.57 M. And for the first semester of year 2005, the average is P1.32 M.Collection of amusement tax from 1999 to 2005 was consistent as reflected by the records of PATO. From 1999 to 2001, the collection average was P2.56M. The same average was attained in years 2002 to 2004, although it decreased during the first quarter of 2005 with a total collection of only P2.4M. Tax amnesties were offered to resort owners by the PATO but the effect was minimal. Resort owners disagreed on why the nature of their businesses was classified as amusement. As of the latest inventory, a 119 resort are operating in the province, many of which refuse to comply with the tax policies implemented by the local government. Round table discussions were and are currently being held so that the province can reach compromise agreements with the owners of these resort businesses. Resorts are one of the most lucrative businesses in Bulacan, providing a more extensive revenue base for the government.The collection of annual tax on delivery van and trucks from 1999 to first semester of 2005 increased significantly as shown by the records of the PATO. The collection average is P668, 000 from 1999 to 2001; from 2002 to 2004, the average is P801, 000; during the first semester of 2005, the average is P890, 000. It has satisfactorily improved during the seven years period in review.Tax collection average on the transfer of real property ownership from 1999 to 2001 is tagged at P333.3 M. The average for years 2002 to 2004 is P20.6 M. And the average for the first semester of 2005 is at P30.8 M. The collection for transfer tax on real property has fluctuated during the seven-year period in review.
Institutional and Organizational InterventionsThe laudable tax collection performance of the province of Bulacan from 1994 to 2004 could well be the result of a serious implementation of institutional and organizational programs that were planned, adopted, and established one after the other, by the present political leadership; or it could be result of a convergence of such programs that intervened in the usual operations of the local government between 1996 and 2003.The programs (or interventions) which perceived to have contributed to the positive outcome of tax collection in Bulacan are: • The Performance Management System (PMS)The Performance Management System (PMS) is a system of monitoring and evaluating the quality and performance of all provincial government offices for judging system-level efficiency and effectiveness. It was first implemented in the province of Bulacan in 2002 under the supervision the Provincial Planning and Development office (PPDO); however, it became fully operational only in the first quarter of 2003 when a monitoring team assigned to conduct consultations and monitoring activities was created.The PMS implemented by the Organization, Monitoring and System Development Division (OMSD) of the office of the Provincial Administration (OPA). Based on provisions of the Local Government Code of 1991, the Provincial Administrator (PA) has the power to implement management and administration-related programs. The mandate of the PA has been made more effective by the PA’s Office strategic position in relation to all offices of provincial government (ANNEX A). The organizational structure of the provincial government has enabled the PA to control and monitor the activities of every department, making the PMS program an intervention at the institution level rather than at the organization-level.The first component of the PMS program of the provincial government of Bulacan is the derivation of key result areas (KRA) and performance indicators (PI) in six (6) service sectors. The service sectors are: Economic Development, Social Development, Environment and Peace and Order, Infrastructure Development, and Development Administration. PATO is grouped under the last sectors. The KRAs are the primary products or services desired and are the focus of the performance process. The KRAs are considered “SMART” (specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic to achieve, and time-bounded with the deadline) goals. The PIs are measures that provide information to evaluate the result of what have been accomplished. They are service standards expressed in terms of quantity of services provided, quality or services provided, and cost of services provided that have to be accomplished in a given period of time. Both KRA and PI of PATO are endogenous that is, internally generated or tailored to its needs.The PMS of the PATO consists of six (6) KRAs and fourteen (14) PIs. The six KRAs are increase revenue, improved treasury system, operational financial management information system (FMIS), operational Real Property Tax Information System (RPTIS) of which complete and updated tax maps and improved assessment systems are to be provided.Increased revenue is measured in terms of the number of delinquent taxpayers that are identified in municipalities, the number of demand letters that are sent to delinquent taxpayers, and the number of delinquent taxpayers who paid taxes after receiving the demand letters.Improved treasury system is being measured in terms of the number of minutes per order of payment computed and prepared for simple transfer and estate taxes with extra judicial settlement, the number of financial transactions processed, and the number of official receipt prepared and issued by the department.An operating FMIS is measured by the response time of employees (in minutes) in the preparation of official receipt, reports on collection and deposits, and record update. Performance on RPTIS is measured in terms of the response time in preparation tax declaration, property holding and certifications, such as certificate (with improvement or without of improvement) of real property.An operating RPTIS is measured by the number of tax declaration and certification issued. Completed and updated tax maps are measured in the terms of the number of section and barangay index maps complete and updated. The Tax Mapping Division (TMD) of the Assessment Unit (AU) of the PATO is responsible for this activity. Response time on the processing of simple transfer, subdivision, reclassifications and classifications, re-assessment, and new declarations are the indicators of an improved assessment system.The derivation of KRAs and PIs completed the first component of the PMS and was called the The Performance Planning for the Performance Management System of PATO.The second component of the PMS program is performance appraisal. This is a system of monitoring ha been implemented in order to progress on performance and ensure that the performance standards are met. This starts when the PATO supervisors (Division Chiefs) observe and formulate measure to tract activities within their department.The next stage is feedback wherein supervisors give their Head of Office timely and feasible information relevant to how well results are being achieved. The division chiefs of the PATO are participative in this stage. They provide feedback reports frequently during Division Chiefs meetings and staff meetings.The last stage in the second component of the PMS program is the conduct of performance review and is done after quarterly accomplishment reports are submitted by the PATO Head of Office (Provincial Treasurer) to the PA. This Report is called the Department’s Performance Progress Report (DPPR), which is detailed document describing the program, project, and the activities of the department under the six KRAs with standard targets and accomplished measure of quantity, quality, cost, and response time. The reporting is usually followed by monitoring schedules conducted by management auditors who would go down the offices and ranks of the departments to further document results, standards of performance, and progress towards achieving these results. Moreover, the auditors give impressions on how well results were achieved, suggestion on how to improve performance, and guidelines to follow their suggestions.The third and last component of the PMS program is the rewarding of exemplary performance. This is usually held twice a year (mid-year and year-end) During the conduct of Assessment and Planning Workshop, when the whole Provincial Government represented by heads of all is thirty (30) departments is seven (7) district hospital meet outside of the province. Besides the rewarding, the workshop becomes a forum for assessing programs and projects implemented by department hospital officers in the previous year and for the discussing their targets for the following year in the presence of the Provincial Governor of Bulacan. 2003 Restructuring ProgramOne major change brought about by the Restructuring Program of 2003 in the Provincial Government of Bulacan was the merging of the Provincial Assessment and Provincial Treasury departments into one department. The objective of the restructuring is to synchronize the activities previously done separately by each department in order to attain one specific goal, which to increase revenue from real property taxes. With the new structure, real property tax assessment and collection are simultaneously analyzed and processed so that errors in assessment and valuation could be minimized. These errors usually arise from inaccurate valuation of the actual usage of real property.The reorganization of 2003 is also resulted in the creation of a Tax Mapping Division responsible for tax mapping activities under the Provincial Assessor. Tax mapping begins with “one-site” inspection by tax mappers of real property units to validate the tax declaration of real property owners, in terms of actual use and location, and ends with the plotting of the parcels of land on drawn section maps.The reorganization of 2003 also reduced the number of the total workforce under the PATO, from sixty-nine (69) to fifty-four (54). The current PATO workforce includes treasury and assessment officers, collection and assessment clerks, cashier, records officers, tax mappers, draftsmen, and administrative staff. The reorganization reduced the expenditures of the department on personal salaries. The merging of assessment and treasury activities required the appointment of two (2) Assistant Department Heads, one to oversee the entire assessment function and the other, the entire collection function (Annex B).
Management Information SystemsThe provincial government initiated the development and installation of computer-based information system to support efforts in verifications, mapping, and update of real property database as well as for proper assessment, valuation, and speedy collection of taxes from rightful owners.1. Real Property Tax Information System (RPTIS)The Real Property Tax Information System (RPTIS) is designed to achieve accurate and updated records of real properties for the entire province. Underlying principle of the RPTIS is increasing efficiency of services through use information technology. This information holds a complete database of real properties in all 22 municipalities and two component cities of Bulacan, properly classified as to use, location, and ownership.The computerization of the assessment process through RPTIS led to discovery of errors in valuation of property and taxation. The data on ownership and actual use of property enabled employees to do away with archival search on records of real properties, except in rare cases. Using assigned Property Index Number (PIN) on real properties, employees could readily access tax declaration certificates from the computer terminals. This ready access minimized instances when employees computed either lower or higher assessment valuation than what was actually acceptable, because most employees, before the RPTIS was installed based valuations on archival records which were then in disarray.The RPTIS enabled the assessment unit to provide property owners with various assessment documents in less response time. A certified true copy of tax declarations, if computer generated, will be provided within 20-25 minutes, or certificates of no improvement/ with improvement within 10 minutes. Because of this assessment unit was able to serve more clients.2. Geographic Information System (GIS)The Geographic Information System (GIS) was tied up the RPTIS where the record database is directly linked to the digital map. This is done with the use of tax maps generated through inspection of properties with tax mappers. Parcels of land are plotted on section maps that are maintained and updated by the Assessment Unit. Section maps are then scanned for geo-referencing refers to the process of scaling, rotating, translating, and de-skewing image to match a particular size and position. Screen digitization is the conversion of an image from printed paper, film, or other media formats to an electronic format where the object its represented as either black and white dots, color, grayscale pixels, or 1′s and 0′s. The GIS supported RPTIS to serves to check and to reconcile the RPTIS database through its land use color-coding scheme and the actual satellite-based graphic image. Through the GIS, undeclared properties are precisely identified. 3. Financial Management Information System (FMIS)The FMIS enables collection unit of the PATO to issue official receipts and to prepare reports in less response time. It has three modules that guide the operations of the Provincial Accounting Office (Accounting), Provincial Budget Office (PBO), and PATO. The FMIS links all financial operation of the PATO with the other two offices. For example, in releasing of financial aids, the PATO can trace if assistance was ready for release after the assignment of obligation. This activity has help employees of PATO to concentrate on revenue generating activities rather than revenue reducing activities, such as giving of aids, by lessening the time employees spend on activities other than tax generation. While the FMIS supports the Revenue Operation Divisions (ROD), employees of the Cash Receipt and Disbursement Division (CRDD) benefit most from the FMIS.The target response time of the FMIS process of each official receipt – three (3) minutes or less; collection and deposit report preparation – eight (8) minutes or less; collection report of liquidating officer – eight (8) minutes or less; and each record updated – five minutes or less.Information and Education Campaign and other StrategiesAlthough the use of information management system (MIS) in real property tax administration significantly improved the financial standing of the provincial government, collection of real property tax remains a problematic area in revenue generation because of the following issues and concerns:1. Idle lands are yet to be identified 2. Real property units are declared in names and multiple claimants 3. Locating unknown owners and undeclared properties 4. Real properties covered by land reform which ownership were transferred to farmer beneficiaries are yet declared for taxation purposes; and 5. In appraisal and assessment, obsolete classification of lots as per actual use (e.g., commercial but declared as residential).In recognition of the above issues, the provincial government of Bulacan implemented the following strategies:A. Massive Tax Information and Education Campaign through the following methods:1. Orientation / Workshop for Homeowner’s Association Officers and members on provincial taxes; 2. Tax caravan (motorcades) conducted quarterly; 3. Public Address System in subdivisions and barangays;4. Tax “Balitaan” in subdivisions and barangays wherein problems on assessment and payment are discussed;5. Distribution of “comics” (reading material) and flyers to property owners in 22 municipalities and 2 component cities of the province.6. Installation of billboards in 22 municipalities and 2 component cities; and7. Streamers on conspicuous places in 22 municipalities and two component cities.B. House – to house survey in subdivisions to update real property records;C. Establishment of Real Property Assessment and Tax payment Assistance Centers in subdivisions and barangays were tax payers can directly pay taxes;D. Consultation with all 119 subdivision developers;E. Submission of a certified list of Delinquent Taxpayers in municipalities by the Municipal Treasurers to the PATO and Issuance of Demand Letters by the Provincial Legal Officer to demand payment ( in 2004, 430demand letters in which 11,380);F. Implementation of “BUWIS” Award and giving of incentives to barangays in recognition of RPT collection performance.In the collection of professional tax, PATO coordinated with the DepEd Divisions Office to increase collection from public and private school teachers. The same method was done in
Shaping Culture, Values and AttitudesDavid (2003) posited that there are several factors that affect “achievement of successful outcomes” in an organization. On of which is culture, which affects organizational performance in the same way as it affects the behavior of employees. This can be illustrated in values exhibited by employees in different situations. Gorospe (n.d.) said that Filipino values are ambivalent, and can assume either a negative or positive form. When an employee says “bahala na,” it could mean either taking a risk in i9nspite of the difficulties hoping to emerge successful in the end, or doing nothing because of a belief in a pre-determined fate. These cultural values should not be ignored as it influences local government performance.If culture is difficult to change, then the effects of institutional or organizational intervention implemented in a particular organization are readily felt. Berkdol (n.d.) declared however,”- Although culture resist change, they are constantly changing.” With positive results experienced by the provincial government of Bulacan associated with the inventions in policy, structure, system, and Human resources, four (4) PATO organizational values were observed by the author to have been affected significantly.First, the institutionalization performance planning through the PMS programmed reduced the previous practice of employees to work without target goals. In the case of revenue collection, employees become more motivated to perform their assigned task because such task included objectives that were clearly stated and determined beforehand. The inefficiencies associated with the “aimless” style of working and the “fatalism” culture of the employees toned down by performance planning.Second, the spirit of cooperation was further strengthened with the reorganization program in 2003. Because the boundaries of work assignment were clearly defined; overlapping of functions between the Assessment and Treasury were reduced. The divisions and units were structured for specific purposes and work mandates.Third, consultation as “social value for seeking and encouraging others opinion”(De Leon n.d, p.15) was continuously practiced. Division’s chief began to respect and value their co-workers’ and subordinates opinion when the department needs to solve issues concerning its operation. With the institutionalization of performance planning, employees of PAT O we more involved and frequently consulted in every project or activity that the department is about to undertake. The activity also provided the opportunity for the employees to ventilate ill feelings or problems associated with their workFourth, “trial and error” or guesswork was reduced. Guesswork refers to ‘ working without any clear strategy or (sic) structured procedure ” (De Leon, n.d., p. 17). With the enactment of the Provincial Revenue Code, an incremental policy reform, guidelines on collection of provincial taxes were properly laid down and followed. This has led to the institutionalization of a system and procedure in tax collection. Moreover, the MIS in the assessment records provided support to the assessment officers, enabling them to determine more accurately the obligations of taxpayers and to prevent irregular arrangements or “areglo” (De Leon n.d., p18) in the enforcement of tax collection. Although values affect employee attitude and motivation, Chowdhury and Amin (2001) believe that values and attitudes are different can be measured when formed in evaluative statements. Bazler and Smith, on he other hand define attitude as reaction towards five specific dimensions of job. (Chowdhury and Amin, 2001). These five dimensions are “work satisfaction,” “pay satisfaction,” “supervision satisfaction,” with promotion,”and “Co-worker’s satisfaction.” In conducting a survey among the employees of PATO, the level of satisfaction of the employees was gauged using of four dimensions of job, excluding” satisfaction with the promotions.” Of the 54 survey questionnaires distributed, 46 responded and returned questionnaires were used in the satisfaction analysis. The following are the results of the survey: Work satisfaction garnered satisfactory rating ranging from 70-75%Pay satisfaction garnered poor rating ranging from 37-50 %Supervision satisfaction garnered satisfactory rating ranging from 79-83 % Co-workers satisfaction garnered satisfactory rating of 87 % Overall, satisfactory rating of 74 % was attained.The satisfaction was derived by getting the difference between sum of the “Strongly Agree” (SA) and “Agree” (A) percentage responses and sum of “Strongly Disagree” (SD” and “Disagree” (D) percentage responses of the Likert scale.Post Institutional and Organizational ConcernsThe main benefit of MIS when employed in revenue-generating government offices is the reduction of certain irregularities. The GIS-supported RPTIS was mainly designed to minimize income lost from erroneous valuation and assessment of real properties. The absence of an accurate and updated database on real properly sometimes provide the opportunity for employees to present over-or under valued assessments to taxpayers as a way to augment their low salaries. The information systems installed at the provincial government of Bulacan prevent the practice called “areglo” (Spanish) that arises from the residual powers of employees obtained from inaccurate database. Another benefit derived from MIS is the minimization of time wastage, prompting employees to serve more clients.The MIS, however, entails a huge amount of funding to keep it going. In the case of GIS, radioscope are also needed to acquire graphical satellite-base imagery. Large capital layout is required, and chief executives sometimes go to extent of lobbying with higher authorities in order to get the approval for the release of funds. At this point, initiatives at the operational level are difficult to proceed and it demand persuasive-skills of techno-bureaucrats who wish for the implement of their MIS projects. Sustaining the momentum of the MIS becomes an issue because of the expected change in leadership in near future.Organizational restructuring depends on the outcome desired. It does not have a standard prescription. In the provincial government of Bulacan, the initiative to focus on real properly tax collection p[prompted the PATO to design an organizational chart that can increase the assessment capabilities of the workforce. The office of the Provincial assessor was previously a separate department but it is now merged with Treasury. Moreover, a Tax Mapping Division was created to perform activities require by the GIS-supported RPTIS.Overstaffing is a disadvantage to the productivity of an organization Because it breeds inefficiency. By abolishing fifteen positions in the PATO, the spent for managing and supervising employees has been reduced. However, difficulties in the implementation of a major organization program at the provincial government of Bulacan because the laid-off workers have to be given retirement or separation options before the organization could be totally streamlined. Reorganization cannot be completed if employees' right and privileges were ignored.The performance Management System (PMS) is rendered ineffective if the targeted clients of the program are not serious about it. While the performance standard can be replicated in the other LGUs the successful implementation of the program highly depends on the employees' acceptance. Management auditors play an important role in helping decision-makers to monitor and assess the PMS through feedback mechanisms. It is important that chief executives and the political leadership be informed of the "honest" results of the audit process. In this manner, the real or actual scenario of managerial, staff, and rank-and-life performance is reflected.Effective mainstreaming of performance management can be attained by assigning the responsibility to a particular office for the purpose of control over the other offices. In the provincial government of Bulacan, the Provincial Administrator's Office is responsible for the implementing the PMS in all offices of the LGU. Performance management can be more effective if it is implemented at the institutional level than at the organization level. The demand for, and degree of acceptance of, the PMS is greater if all departments were involved in the program.So far the interventions done in the province of Bulacan have been effective in increasing tax collection. Dependency of the provincial government on the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) has been gradually reduced each year. Improvements in the collection of the provincial taxes, except from the amusement tax and some unrealized income from real property and transfer. The LGU has planned another intervention to compel resort owner in paying the required amusement taxes. The campaign for the real property tax should be continually approached from both government and citizen. The organizational intervention s could not be solely relied upon to increase real property collection unless information coming from the citizens themselves are obtained.Institutional intervention in the provincial government Bulacan provide legislative support to the tax initiatives of the Governor. The Provincial Revenue Code provides a basis for the implementation of the tax program in Bulacan, although it was not necessarily meant for the compliance of the provincial ordinance. Tax amnesties are regularly given to encourage taxpayers to meet their obligation and these are usually supported by a Resolution from the Local Legislative Council. Tax compromise could be reached with the owners of resort business and the possibility is high with the intervention of the Local Legislative Council in the offering of amnesties.The satisfaction level of employees in their respective work situation determines their productivity level. With the result s of the survey, it is clear that the interventions done the policy, structure, and system of the PATO produced agreeable level of satisfaction of employees, particularly in terms of work, supervision, and co-worker's satisfaction. Addressing the low income of its employees, the provincial government of Bulacan has implemented a P1,000.00 increase in salary in compliance with the order of the Office of the President. Although insignificant, the provincial leaders hope that the increase could augment the level of work satisfaction of their employees. Institutional and organizational interventions policy, structure, and system can contribute to a desire outcome in revenue generation but should be augmented by an intervention on human resources development, so that organizational capability can be further improved. Interventions on policy, structure and system can be motivate employees to work harder but does not be effective if the economic aspect of their job is not fully attended.Finally, aside from the above-mentioned issues and lesson learned, the observations obtained from the organizational transformation experiences of the provincial government of Bulacan also show that positive changes in the administrative culture of the workforce can be attained by reinforcing values of performance within the context of work.
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