Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Do Filipinos complain too much they’re not getting enough from the taxes they pay or, worse, that it’s being wasted by incompetent, corrupt officials? Not really – at least not as much as people from other countries including the United States – according to a recent survey by GlobeScan Inc,, the Program on International Policy Attiutudes (PIPA) and the BBC World Service.

Slightly more than half of Filipinos polled in the survey said government wasn’t spending their tax money wisely – compare that to 74% of Columbians or 69% of Pakistanis.

In contrast, only 34% of Spaniards, 40% of Indonesians and 42% of Egyptians believe their taxes are misspent.

That puts disenchanted Filipinos right about in the middle.

In the US, 55% of Americans think their tax dollars are not going where they’re supposed to go.

The worldwide survey was done in 22 countries, some through the phones, others, like the one conducted in the Philippines, through face-to-face interviews.

“The poll of more than 22,000 people conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA found that people estimated on average that 52% of the money they pay in tax is not used in ways that serve the interests and values of the people and their country,” the report noted.

“Beliefs that the government misspends public moneys may arise from perceptions of corrupt government officials, from perceptions of special interests having undue influence, or from repeatedly hearing opposition parties assert that the party in power is wasting their money,” explained PIPA director Steven Kull.

In the Philippines, some reports suggests as much as 30% of the government budget is lost to corruption.

Despite this, the survey showed a majority of Filipinos, 53% favor increased government spending to address the country’s needs.

The global sentiment appears to defy 1st and 3rd World differentiation.

58% of Americans believe this was a bad idea. It’s the opposite in the United Kingdom where 54% of the people support stimulus spending. Egyptians appear the biggest fans of the economic stimulus – 91% of the people said they support higher government spending.

73% of Filipinos strongly support more government spending for food subsidies – the same as Indonesia and just slightly lower than the 77% of Egyptians and 75% of Colombians. As might be expected, the figures are lower for richer nations – 26% for Americans and Canadians, 29% for the French and 20% for Germans -- because more people have money to buy food.

But here’s the rub – if faced with the choice, more Filipinos are willing to get less from government than giving more in the form of added taxes.

Only 7% of Filipino respondents said they’d support more taxes to reduce a budget deficit. 81% said they prefer cutting services.

That’s in contrast to 16% in China who would opt for higher taxes, or the 20% in Nigeria, 29% in Mexico and 23% in the US because they don't want any disruption in government services.

The only other countries in the survey with equal or greater aversion to higher taxes are Brazil, Colombia and Kenya.

Still, more Filipinos are optimistic about the future than many countries in the survey. 43% believe there are better days ahead for the Philippines, at least in the next 12 months – much higher than the 35% of Indonesians, 22% of Spaniards and Germans, 13% of Americans, 11% of Mexicans, 9% of French and 6% of Brits.

The discrepancy grows even bigger over the 5-year future where 51% of Filipinos think good times lay ahead – compared to 38% of Indonesians, 26% of Canadians, 18% of Americans, 19% of Germans and Russians, 14% of the French and 12% of Brits.

The survey in the Philippines was conducted last July 2-17.

Blame it on the air or the water, or even the euphoria of the new Aquino administration but the global survey suggests it’ll take more than a few calamities and corrupt officials to throw Filipinos in the doldrums.

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