Business asks gov’t to accelerate spending, pump-prime economy
The government needs to accelerate spending in the coming months and pump-prime the economy, as a year of review of projects and systems should already be enough to make transactions as corruption-free as possible.
Makati Business Club chairman Ramon del Rosario Jr. said the Aquino administration wanted to avoid corruption so much that it hardly implemented any projects during its first year.
“Because the government wanted to avoid corruption so much, the pace of government spending became too slow. We can’t (avoid corruption) to the extreme that no projects will be implemented. Infrastructure spending is necessary,” Del Rosario said.
“The government needs to accelerate spending, even with the risk of having a little corruption seep in,” Del Rosario added.
MBC and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines spearhead the Integrity Initiative, the private sector’s answer to the government’s thrust to eliminate corruption.
Participants in the Integrity Initiative, or those who have signed the Integrity Pledge, commit to shun bribery in any form, maintain a code of conduct for employees to pursue ethical business practices, and implement internal systems that will prevent any unethical conduct within their firms.
They also vow to maintain transparent and appropriate financial reporting mechanisms and to allow themselves to be subjected to audits should the need arise. They also commit to eventually enter into “integrity pacts” with government agencies and other businesses, especially in the area of procurement.
The goal is to eventually get government agencies to commit to accept only bids coming from “integrity-certified” companies. This is expected to encourage more companies to join the Integrity Initiative.
Del Rosario estimated corruption to be around 20 percent of total government budget, after taking away debt servicing and operating expenses, or equivalent to about P300 billion.
“I just used a factor of 20 percent to make an estimate, but that’s very conservative. Most people say it is much higher than 20 percent. We want to bring this down to as low a number as possible. I know it can’t be zero, but we just want to reduce corruption to as little as possible,” he said.
In an earlier interview, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said the government really wanted to be careful with the way it implemented projects, especially the flagship public-private partnership program.
Domingo said that was the reason for the slow pace at which the PPP program had moved over the past year.
“We fixed the process and set the policies. We want to make sure that the projects we award will go smoothly,” he said.
Certain quarters are blaming the delays in the implementation of several projects, particularly those of the Department of Public Works and Highways and those under the Private-Public Partnership framework, for the measly 3.4-percent growth of the economy in the second quarter of the year.
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