DoF, BSP present unified front on removal of bank secrecy

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THE lifting of bank secrecy is expected to generate additional government revenue of P76.6 billion, directly or indirectly, over the next five years, as economic managers promised to lobby Congress to make a weakening of account protections a feature of tax amnesty legislation.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the removal of bank secrecy in tax amnesty cases is “crucial and indispensable” for upcoming legislation, after President Rodrigo R. Duterte vetoed provisions of the Tax Amnesty Act, or Republic Act 11213, in February.

Mr. Dominguez said Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin E. Diokno will join him in convincing the 18th Congress to allow the removal of bank secrecy in tax amnesty cases.

Mr. Dominguez said he directed Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran to inform Congress that the Department of Finance (DoF) and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) have a joint position on the matter.

He warned that the government could lose around P53 billion in indirect revenue if tax amnesties are granted without giving the government the power to inspect bank accounts.

In his veto message in February, Mr. Duterte said he did not want to grant tax amnesties without safeguards against untruthful declarations of assets or net worth, and called for the “breaking down (of the) walls of bank secrecy” to prevent any abuse of the amnesty program.

The unvetoed provisions cover amnesty for estate taxes and tax delinquencies, which are expected generate P6.28 billion and P21.26 billion in additional revenue, respectively.

“Make sure that the general amnesty and the lifting of the bank secrecy (has to go) together,” Mr. Dominguez told Mr. Beltran during a recent DoF Executive Committee (Execom) meeting. — Beatrice M. Laforga