Governance is not about how the government governs. It is how the government, the private business sector, and civil society collectively pursue the common good.
The business community initially through about 700 companies, recently signed an Integrity Pledge -- a commitment to uphold the highest standards of ethics in their operations including the payment of correct amount of taxes.
This initiative, which was spearheaded by the Makati Business Club and European Chamber of Commerce is indeed a significant milestone in our dream of a corruption free society.
Many of the corrupt practices in government involve the participation of the private sector. Scoring significant wins in the fight against corruption can be realized faster if the private business sector and civil society will own the war as theirs to fight and not regard it as solely the government's business.
The initiative is essentially one aimed at creating and developing a culture of integrity -- a perfect antidote to the current culture of corruption that we have. Such initiative makes a lot of business sense in the long-run aside from being the right thing to do.
While business organizations will now have to forgo the part of their "profit" that was actually earned by not paying the correct amount of taxes, they will have better "bottom line" figures in the long run as they can avoid the costs of tax evasion cases.
Likewise, they will hopefully have to shoulder effectively lower tax rates in the future as government will have sufficient funds for its operations and programs.
The reality is, the taxes that business organizations pay have a direct impact on their competitiveness. We hope that the business organization that signed the Pledge of Integrity will be solidly committed to the initiative and they will not abandon the same when their competitors start using the "tax cheating advantage" against them.
We hope that this integrity initiative will spread throughout the country. When it does and with the other anti-corruption programs of the Aquino Administration, there will be better hope in having a matuwid na landas society.
Source: Tempo; OPN; 20 September 2011