THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) has pushed for salary increases for its employees, citing difficulties in retaining and attracting lawyers and accountants who tend to favor other agencies that offer higher pay.

“We are finding it difficult to recruit personnel considering the low salary for lawyers and accountants are competitive with agencies such as the Public Attorney’s Office and the Civil Service Commission,” BIR Commissioner Romeo D. Lumagui, Jr. told Monday’s Senate Finance Committee hearing on the budget of the Department of Finance (DoF) and its attached agencies.

He noted that the entry-level monthly salary for lawyers at the BIR is P27,000, while lawyers at the CSC earn at least P51,000 a month.

At the same hearing, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno suggested that the BIR reclassify the positions of tax collectors, lawyers and accountants at the agency to grant them higher pay.

The issue cropped up when Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian asked the BIR and the Bureau of Customs about their efforts to address the 11,745 unfilled positions between the two agencies.

“It is a huge amount, considering the BoC and the BIR are the revenue collection agencies and I assume that the more people they have, the more efficient they will become and the more taxes they would collect,” the senator said.

The Senate Finance committee submitted the Department of Finance’s proposed P32.4-billion budget to the Senate plenary for further deliberations.

Mr. Diokno noted that P62.3% or P17.2 billion of the budget would fund digitalization and modernization initiatives.

“Since it is involved with collecting government taxes, we need industry-level salary packages to ward off temptation and attract the best talent to improve the credibility of the office,” Mr. Gatchalian said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez