"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

‘Text- for-change’ no tax burden for telcos

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Richard Gordon on Wednesday clarified that his "text- for-change" measure would not impose additional taxes on telecommunication companies.

In a phone interview, Gordon said Senate Bill 2402 would require telecommunication companies to set aside a portion of their net profits from local text messaging to bankroll financial requirements for public school and health infrastructures.

If the bill will be approved, telecom companies will be giving 20 centavos of every text sent to fund the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP)

"It will be a sharing of revenues but no new taxes will be imposed either on the companies or their subscribers," the senator told GMANews.TV.

He said based on estimates, telecommunication companies, notably Smart, Globe and Sun Cellular, have been raking in P2 billion or more from local text messaging (short messaging system or SMS), sent daily by more than 60 million mobile phone subscribers nationwide alone.

He said aside from stiff opposition from various sectors, which misunderstood the objective of his proposal, the telcos had expressed reservations over the passage of the bill.

The senator said he would remain undeterred by criticisms. He said telcos will have "a heart and a conscience" for poor school children who have long been suffering from the pitiful state of the country's educational and health care systems due to lack of government resources.

"I expect a David-and-Goliath fight here, but I shall remain unperturbed and undeterred by initial reservations. I believe that people would soon realize we need to pool our resources together to address the shortages in our education and health system," Gordon said.

"We have waited for years and nothing seems to happen. We must therefore make a tough decision now if we genuinely want our country to compete in the global market and become what we hope it to be, that is at par with the first world countries," the senator added.

He said it is not only the responsibility of the national government to uplift the country's educational and health care systems, but also of private businesses that shall stand to benefit once investments in the country's education and health care infrastructures are set well in place.

"Under our modern democratic system, our demands and expectations for access to quality of education and health care should be equally matched with our responsibility to contribute in investing for the future of our nation and our children," Gordon said.

He said the country suffers from an existing backlog of 12,418 classrooms at the cost of P6.95 billion; 1,744,237 school seats at P1.39 billion; 44,200,000 textbooks at P2.78 billion; 12,733 teachers at P2.48 billion and an additional P25 million for their training; and 24,709 principals at P4.43 billion.

Gordon said he is inviting the leaders of big businesses, not limited to telco giants, to heed the pleas of millions of poor public school pupils and their teachers by supporting his measure than passing brunt of it to the already-burdened consumers.

The Senate government corporations and public enterprises committee chaired by Gordon will resume public hearing on "text-for-change" bill next week to thresh out a revenue-sharing scheme with the telecommunication leaders and other stakeholders. - GMANews.TV

Gordon: ‘Text- for-change’ no tax burden for telcos
10/01/2008 | 10:27 PM