On Monday, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo used the phrase “revenue assurance” in her 2007 State of the Nation Address. This may well be the first time that a Head of State has used the phrase in an official speech. Although this was a confirmation of an earlier Philippine government announcement about improving tax collection, the inspiration clearly came from the telecommunications and technology sector. The reference to revenue assurance was in a section of the address dedicated to how telecommunications and technology is driving the Philippine economy. This was what President Arroyo said:
Information technology will help the BIR bring in more taxes in the coming months. Its Revenue Watch Dashboard will monitor revenue collections in real time from the national level down to the examiners. The LGU Revenue Assurance shares information between the BIR and the LGUs to uncover fraud and non-payment…
In the same segment, President Arroyo also reflected on the fact that the Philippines had become a top off-shoring hub. Her emphasis was on maintaining the rapid growth in the business services sector by upskilling the services offered. She also commented on significant investment in new undersea broadband links to mitigate the risk of a natural disaster interrupting existing links via Taiwan.
That a Head of State for a developing country should use a phrase borrowed from telecoms should be no surprise. Changes in the world economy are being driven by technology “leapfrogging”, where developing countries skip stages of technology implementation that the developed world went through. The simplest example is the high penetration of mobile in countries with poor fixed-line infrastructure. Rolling out mobile networks is simply more cost-effective than running lots of cables everywhere. Leapfrogging enables the developing world to close the gap on rich economies more rapidly. Levering new technology gives a superior infrastructure for business whilst also enabling direct competition for jobs with workers in the developed world. Take a look at this presentation which gives a summary of the economic growth caused by telecoms in the developed and developing world. It clearly highlights how telecoms is helping the developing world to catch up. It also shows that the higher rate of growth in developing countries like the Philippines correlates to higher rates of telecoms penetration. Modern electronic communications should be a priority for any leader in the developing world. So it is no wonder if a leader’s thinking may also be influenced by the technology sector. If that means learning a few lessons from revenue assurance, and delivering systems and processes that are fast, efficient and accurate, that must be a good thing.