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RP tax take of 14.8% GDP lower than Indonesia, India and US

Cagayan de Oro City (11 September) -- Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's current six-year term expire in 2010 and it's unclear whether the next president will continue her economic policies or will resort to past practices.

As James Hookway of the Wall Street Journal Asia wrote in its Aug. 31, 2007 issue, prior governments have limited the business opportunities available to foreign companies in the Philippines, allowing local tycoons to build lucrative monopolies.

He said Ms. Arroyo's father, Diosdado Macapagal, was president of the Philippines in the early 1960s. After studying economics at Georgetown University, she returned home to teach at the University of the Philippines then entered politics.

She was elected vice president in 1988 and quickly set about distancing herself from her unpopular boss, Pres. Joseph Estrada, a former action-movie star who became embroiled in a series of corruption scandals.

In 2000, she openly began plotting his removal and in January 2001, after the country's armed forces joined hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in the streets of Manila to force him from office, she was sworn in as his successor.

Ms Arroyo, whose short fuse has led her to slam cellphones on tables and publicly berate her deputies for making mistakes, has proved to be a tough political infighter.

She stood up to two failed military coup attempts by rallying her allies in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the powerful Roman Catholic Church, of which she is a devout member.

When the business dealings of her husband began drawing political heat in 2005, she exiled him to the US for several months until the fuss subsided.

Her priority after winning the 2004 presidential election was to put the nation's chronically ailing finances in order with the key problem: anemic tax revenues due to endemic corruption among tax officials and loopholes in the tax code.

In 2003, tax revenues were 14.8% of the GDP indicating a lower rate than in poverty-driven countries such as Indonesia and India, and far below rates in developed countries such as the US, where government revenue totaled 25% of their GDP in 2006. (PIA 10) [top]

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