Tuesday, 8 November 2011

A great November

Business Mirror

WHICH country has the most holidays? No, it’s not the Philippines but it sure seems like it this month of November.

So many tumultuous events flood the news every day and yet we can work a few days, take some time off, and then come back to take more time away from the job.

But you can’t isolate yourself from the world because you never know what’s going to happen or where the excitement is going to come from.

The protests around the world seem not to be losing any momentum. These “Occupiers” are apparently there for the long term, whatever that means. While the stated focus appears to be the greedy bankers, each of the protests seems to have a lot of messages to bring to world, all different.

While one interviewee talks about making the government pay for everything, another is calling for anarchism and no governments. I wonder how their conversations are trying to figure out why they are at the same “occupy” site.

The one thing that could be guaranteed if there were large protests in the Philippines would be lots and lots of vendors. Even if there were a large group of “anti-capitalists” protesting in the Makati financial district, there would be very many “true capitalists” selling fish balls and bottled water. And the anti-capitalists would be buying from them.

Most of the protest camps in Europe and the US seem to have a problem with capitalism also, with lots and lots of drug use and I suppose, drug-selling going on. I guess that is “grassroots” capitalism. These occupiers are also getting free food. That might be a problem in the Philippines because then, the street vendors would be put out of business.

The Greek protests are particularly interesting. You see, Greek citizens are much like Filipinos in that the participation rate in paying income tax or any tax is very low. The Greek government puts a yearly tax on swimming pools. Naturally very few houses in Athens have a swimming pool, at least, according to the tax payments. But one enterprising Greek tax official got on the Internet and decided to look at the Google maps. What he found was that there were hundreds and hundreds of swimming pools in Athens.

Here in the Philippines, the same thing happens. Here again according to the tax payments, the Philippines has very few doctors and dentists.

So the Aquino administration decided to go after erring doctors who may be a little short in what they report as their taxable income.

The doctors are claiming that Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) agents are using “Gestapo tactics,” whatever that means. Of course, tax officials must be courteous and obey the law. But it seems that the problem with the licensed professionals in the Philippines is that they do not understand how the tax laws work and they do not understand how to pay the correct taxes.

The Philippine Medical Association has tied up with the BIR for the creation of a joint task force to “educate and assist medical doctors on the payment of the right taxes and related matters.” Maybe tax laws and taxpaying should be a required course in medical school since the doctors seem to know so little about the subject. These non-tax paying doctors might also ask their attorney about paying taxes but probably the attorney would not know much about the subject, either.

One doctor said that he needed help. “All of us doctors are willing to do so. However, we need to be educated and properly guided as to the right ways and means to do this [paying taxes].” Obviously this medical professional has never heard of the accounting profession.

The obvious solution is to require all doctors, dentists and attorneys to have a BIR certified cash register and the BIR can have a monthly raffle for the official receipts from these professionals.

The All Saints’ Day holiday this year seemed to be sort of quiet. There did not appear to be the mad rush for the cemeteries as in the past. It seemed as if people visited their dearly beloved relatives and then rushed off on vacation someplace. That is probably what you get from All Saints’ Day creating a long weekend. Not a bad thing.

People were complaining about the high cost of flowers and the government is going to do something about it. Or not. It is remarkable how all governments immediately have a solution to a problem, which the day before the government did not even know existed.

It’s officially back-to-work day today. But it is not until next week for a complete week of stock-market trading. And then only one more full week until we have another dayoff. Thank goodness.

E-mail to mangun@gmail.com and Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by CitisecOnline.com Inc.

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