ROUGH CUTS| How’s the fines collection?

WE CONGRATULATE City Hall, specifically the City Treasurer’s Office, for continuously surpassing its monthly revenues and receipts target based on the published report from the said local government office.

As of end of July 2017 the city’s total revenue and receipts totalled P4,782,810,581.26. As always, the biggest bulk of the receipts came from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), or the share of the local government from national taxes collected from businesses and other sources in the city. The city’s IRA already reached P2,430,503,243.00. It has also disbursed some P2,436,389,370.96 as of the end of the same period.

We examined the various revenue sources listed in the monthly report to find out how one item is faring with all others in terms of its monthly movement. What we are trying the check is the status of the fines collected from persons who were apprehended for violating the city’s smoking ban ordinance.

This after we read a news dispatch coming from the City Information Office (CIO) quoting City Anti-Vice Unit head retired navy officer Voltaire Engracia reporting a total of 7,000 persons arrested for smoking in prohibited areas since Mayor Inday Sara assumed office over a year ago.

We are aware that the penalty for violating the anti-smoking ordinance is either payment of fines or rendering community service for certain number of hours.

Well, we have to admit we are not familiar on the amount of the fines provided in the ordinance for the first, second and third offenses. But assuming that P100 is slapped as fine for first offenders that could mean a collection of P700 thousand already.

In that particular news dispatch Engracia unfortunately failed to provide the CIO with details on how many of the apprehended smokers were made to pay fines and how many opted to do community service. But knowing the nature of the Filipino we can safely assume that one hundred percent of them may have paid fines instead of rendering community service. So we thought that the collected fines may have been included in such revenue source items as Fines and Penalties – Local Taxes, Fines and Penalties – Permits and License Income, and Fines and Penalties – Other Business and Service Income. Or, it could be added to the revenue item Miscellaneous Income.

However, looking into the definition that could be provided for the first three revenue items the most logical to have subsumed the collected fines from the smoking ban violators is the Fines and Penalties – Other Business and Service Income. But then, the total amount of receipt under that particular item as of end of July is only P187,495.28.  So, to assume that the possible P700 thousand (or evben less) fines collected could have been included in the immediately preceding revenue item does not make any sense.

All the more that the amount could not have been added to the item Miscellaneous Income because the total collection for that particular item is only P11,221.82.

We are not injecting any intrigue or sowing suspicion in this piece. But it would be for the best interest of the of the City Treasurer’s Office and the City’s Anti Vice Unit if they can provide the public a detailed breakdown as to the number of the arrested anti-smoking ban violators who paid fines and those who preferred to do community service.

That, we are certain, will quash any doubt on the effectiveness of the anti-smoking ordinance implementation and the disposition of the fines paid by violators.

Another revenue source item that we are closely monitoring is the Parking Fee which registered a collection of P282,600.00. We are a little bit surprised on the figure because for the past many years we could hardly see even a single parking fee collector on roadsides that we have been parking our vehicle while doing business in the city’s downtownb area.

So, if there is religious collection efforts of parking fees in designated city streets the amount reported in the revenue and receipts as of end of July could have doubled or even tripled. What then is hindering the City Treasurer’s Office from recommending to the mayor to hire more parking fee collectors?

Hiring more people to engage in activities that will clearly increase the income of the city is definitely much better than employing “job order” workers assigned in various city offices doing nothing or serving as personal errand man or woman of certain city officials.

We hope the CTO can fine time to look into this revenue opportunity that may have only been neglected unintentionally.

Posted in Opinion