The Philippine government is seeking support for a new way to plug its yawning budget deficit - a 'text tax' on the 200 million short messaging service texts sent daily by the country's mobile-phone users. Spurred by their decision this week to bail out heavily indebted national power generator Napocor, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's ministers are trying to sell the idea to a sceptical public. The government was already projecting a budget deficit of 198 billion pesos (HK$27.3 billion) this year. The bailout will add 60 billion pesos to the deficit. Finance Secretary Juanita Amatong said a tax of 20 centavos per text message was 'a really insignificant amount' for consumers to bear but would bring in 13.8 billion pesos a year. In the Philippines, where corruption hampers collection of conventional taxes, the beauty of a text tax is its easy enforcement. But Catholic bishop Oscar Cruz attacked the idea, and Mrs Arroyo's allies in Congress warned of a backlash. Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri was undaunted. 'It is a matter of how we can 'sell' the tax to the public,' newspaper Business World quoted him as saying. Some 25 million Filipinos have a mobile phone, but most can only afford to tap out messages to each other rather than place a voice call.