Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Statement of Assets and Liabilities for Private Employees

The Establishment has noted a draft bill that proposes to require private employees to file their statement of assets and liabilities. Please see Lifestyle checks up for private workers (Philstar.com - The Filipino Global Community) The bill proposes to require all private sector workers, professionals and other civilians with an annual income of at least P100,000 to file their statement of assets and liabilities (SAL)in the same manner as that of public sector workers.

The idea is to force everyone to state for the record what they own and what they owe, and match this with their declared annual income. If they don't match, then the BIR can build a potential case for tax evasion. It sounds pretty good in theory, but the question is -- can the government be trusted with that data?

If you have an enemy, for example (who may be like a fomer boss, former wife, business and political rival, etc.), and this enemy gets elected into office, which allows her access to these data, you're toast. You are never going to sleep peacefully without a call from the BIR everyday of your life. Maybe if you are clean and are able to match your SAL with your income, your enemy can leak your SAL to the kidnappers and extortionists, in which case, your family is toast. You may not even be able to trust your security guard, even if you can afford one.

Even assuming that this enemy does not get herself elected to office, she can easily link with somebody in government to do that for her. And who in this country does not have a link to a government official? Even your friendly neighborhood squatter can have direct access to a corrupt congressman.

Clearly, this disclosure requirement will make private individuals vulnerable to a lot of attacks, legitimate and illegitimate. Sadly, government's record in protecting private data is poor -- and not just this government. While the proposed bill may be an efficient way to address the problem of tax evasion, the inefficiency in government, which is inherent in any organization particularly in the area of security, will bring prejudice to the individual that will outweigh the benefits of this proposed measure. We may be able to increase revenue collection, but our citizens will live in a state of anxiety -- what with their unexplained wealth (or unexplained poverty, for that matter) resting in a public database for all their enemies to see. Bottomline: we can't trust the government with our private data. Just look at how the SSS and GSIS manage to release loans to tampered accounts. The possibilities are frigthening.

What if you don't have enemies? Maybe you are already dead.

(second revision)

3 comments:

Sef said...

Ha.. ha.. If you have no enemies, it is either you are already dead, or you have already killed them all!

Usually (actually, almost always), when government proposes a tax measure, they include the amount of money which is expected to be gained from said measure. The news article did not mention any amount. That leaves us to guess that perhaps government projects to gain nothing from it but just something to talk about not involving them!

Anonymous said...

You got it right Sef.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon this while searching for the guidelines in obtaining a government official's S.A.L. I wrote a formal request to the office where it was filed, but got a written denial of the request. Was wondering if you would know how to obtain it legally...