EDITORIAL - Raising taxes to throw away needlessly is crazy

The Freeman

Saddled with a P13 billion annual budget Cebu City cannot realistically fund, Mayor Michael Rama is toying with the idea of raising taxes wherever possible. That is a very big disappointment to those who believe Rama is a better chief executive than his predecessor and has more sense than to add more to the current woes of the people. And, poised for a run at a final term, the idea of raising taxes just a year from an election could spell political disaster for him.

It is difficult to understand why a city that keeps bloating its budget with unnecessary cash doleouts would have to fund those unnecessary doleouts with more taxes. The more sensible and practical thing to do would have been to scrap those unnecessary cash doleouts altogether. After all, the only purpose they really served was to win pogi points for city officials and nothing else.

Cebu City should not try to emulate the practice of generosity exercised by other big cities in Metro Manila that are swimming in material abundance. Compared to such mega-rich local government units like Makati and Quezon City, Cebu City is but a mere pipsqueak. We don't have doodley-squat. Rama cannot hope to keep stride with steak-fed Makati and Quezon City on stamina fueled by nothing better than tinughong.

It is not enough for Rama to justify his plan to raise taxes by saying the city has not done so for years. Instead of making that fact a linchpin to pursue his plan, he should instead underscore that point and, coupled with better fiscal management, brag to his heart's content that Cebu City can keep stride with the rest even without raising taxes. That would make much better sense, and an even better campaign pitch.

This is not to say that the city must never raise taxes. Bitter a pill though it may be to swallow, people do understand the importance of taxes. But taxing for the sake of taxes is never what good governance is all about. Instead, good fiscal management is. Cebu City must learn to live within its means. It doesn't have to do a Makati or a Quezon City to be like Makati or Quezon City.

While taxes are inevitable, there is such a thing as an opportune time to tax and an inopportune time not to do so, and it is the mark of a good leader to know the difference. Sorry to say, but raising taxes just so one can finance an unrealistic budget full of unnecessary expenditures such as cash doleouts for the purpose of winning pogi points is not the mark of one.

In fact, it is not only the mark of poor leadership, it is the mark of a confused one. One could not be thinking straight if he has to burden taxpayers with more taxes just so he can throw those taxes away on expenses that do not benefit at all the taxpayers from whom the taxes were taken in the first place. That is not just confused priority, it is downright crazy policy.

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