Strong Government-Private Sector Partnership Key To Bridging The Digital Divide

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Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III sees a strong government-private sector partnership helping the Philippines breach the digital divide. He said the experiences of countries in this COVID-19 pandemic underscore what the government already knew: that economies will have to quickly adjust to the trajectory of modern digital technologies.

For instance, 90 percent of annual income tax returns (ITRs) were filed electronically last year, while almost 100 percent were also done online this year, which are considered major breakthroughs, given that only 10 percent of the country’s taxpayers made use of digital tools to file their income taxes in 2015, before the Duterte administration took over, Dominguez said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III sees a strong government-private sector partnership helping the Philippines breach the digital divide.

It also transformed the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFBank) into the Philippines’ first branchless digital-only bank in the country’s history to fulfill President Duterte’s campaign promise in 2016 to create a bank that caters to overseas Filipinos and help the country leapfrog to the digital economy, Dominguez said.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), for its part, is spearheading reforms to provide a regulatory environment that promotes an efficient, inclusive, safe and secure digital payments ecosystem, Dominguez said.

In these digitalization efforts, Dominguez said the government has also partnered with development institutions and other countries such as South Korea in developing an electronic invoicing system; the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) in improving the BIR’s digitalization strategy; the Russian Federal Tax Service in possibly replicating its highly efficient value-added tax (VAT) tracking and collection system; and the World Bank (WB) in supporting the BOC’s Customs Modernization Project.

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