Greco Belgica, flat tax, and the conversion of discretionary funds to tuition fee vouchers proposals

Greco Belgica, the youngest senatorial candidate in the Harapan 2013 Senatorial Debates, proposed the amendment of the National Internal Revenue Code in order to institute a system of flat taxation of income. While this has worked, mostly in countries in the previous Soviet Union, this might meet questions of constitutionality in the Philippines given its possible lack of progressivity – meaning the tax rate does not increase as the taxable income increases.

Article VI, Section 28, paragraph 1 of the 1987 Constitution provides that Congress “shall evolve a progressive system of taxation”. While this is not a death sentence to his proposal, he surely needs to argue (like this guy http://www.optimist123.com/optimist/2005/04/the_flat_tax_is.html) that in the context of the Philippines, a flat tax system of taxation is progressive.

Belgica, also proposed to convert discretionary funds into tuition fee vouchers for Filipino students to avail of services in the best schools. While this is laudable considering the perception associating corruption with discretionary funds, it might simply increase demand without any corresponding improvement in the supply of education.

Considering that 70 percent of the country’s enrollments in higher education are in the private sector (Altbach, Reisberg and Rumbley 2009, p. 80 link is http://www.uis.unesco.org/Library/Documents/trends-global-higher-education-2009-world-conference-en.pdf), there is danger that a large part of the vouchers would only serve as a transfer to private schools, which the Commission on Higher Education has some difficulty at regulating (for instance: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/318379/ched-tertiary-schools-with-substandard-courses-resorting-to-court-to-avoid-closure


This fact check was conducted by UP Diliman Political Science Assistant Professor Nelson Cainghog.