By Rio N. Araja
Batangas Rep. Ralph Recto on Sunday said the digitalization of government transactions must not only lead in “ease in doing business” but must also be “easy on the pocket.”
“Online processing should not cause the uptick of fees because the benefit that information technology-based services bring should not be cancelled by its cost,” he said.
In pricing online services, such as the processing of documents, government agencies should follow the established rule “that in setting fees and charges, the intention is to recoup the cost of extending that service, plus a reasonable surcharge, not to profit from it.”
Recto warned that an “IT boom in the bureaucracy should not lead to permit and license cost inflation.”
To keep state fees and charges in check, he urged the Palace to create a body that would regularly evaluate the rates if these are too high or too low, he noted.
“If digitalization cuts costs, then the savings must be passed on to the citizen. IT is not a profit center but a client-service tool,” he said.
“If the documentation of papers manually is at P200 (before), its computerization must be lesser at cost,” he added.
The national government targets to collect P48.8 billion in fees and charges this year, an income it books as non-tax revenues.
Such is the tip of the iceberg as local governments are projected to rake in P321.5 billion from local sources this year, with business tax accounting for P129.2 billion, and regulatory fees adding P27.6 billion, he cited.
“In principle, local governments should be supported in their drive to reduce dependency on national government funding downloads,” he said.