If you think you are paying too much for government services, you can thank President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for it.

Back in January and March 2000, in the very early days of the Arroyo Presidency, Executive Orders 197 and 218 directed all national government agencies and government owned or controlled corporations to increase their fees and fines by not less than 20 percent.

A 20 percent increase would have been bearable, considering that fees and fines had not been raised for some years.  But since the 20 percent was a minimum, every office, it seems, went beyond the minimum.  At the Insurance Commission, some fees were raised ten times.

Not only that, some offices dreamed up some brand-new fees and fines that had never been slapped before.  The higher and more imaginative the fees and fines, the better.

I have a friend who wants to sue his neighbor for encroaching into my friend’s property. But he has not been able to raise the P10,000 filing fee.  And because of the hefty fee, his lawyer has also raised his retainer, and rightfully so.  See the escalating effect of increased government fees?

Where has the money gone?  It certainly did not raise the salaries of government employees.  It certainly did not go to the maintenance of government buildings, considering the sorry state of some of the buildings, especially in the provinces.

Perhaps, the extra collections went to finance first-class airline travel to balmy vacation spots around the world by government officials and their spouses.

These additional fees and fines are actually new taxes without benefit of congressional approval.  Isn’t raising taxes the sole prerogative of the House?

One problem in this country of ours is that every government agency is doing the job of other agencies.  The President raised taxes, thereby encroaching on the power of Congress.  The Department of Communications has taken from the Insurance Commission the supervision of the compulsory third party liability insurance (CTPL). The House wants to amend the constitution without Senate participation. The list is almost endless.

In view of the world-wide economic meltdown, what Malacanang should do is to scrap EO 197 and 218 and roll back fees and fines to pre-2000 levels.  This certainly will be a more effective stimulus package to the citizenry than Bangko Sentral’s cutting its lending rates by thinner and thinner slices.

Then my friend will be able to sue his neighbor and get back his land.


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