Econ team wants weekly dates with legislators
The head of the administration’s economic team is pushing for weekly meetings with legislators to align President Duterte’s legislative agenda with the capacity of the government to run the country.
“More frequent engagements between state economic managers and lawmakers will prevent bills approved by the Congress from being vetoed by the President for going beyond the limits of fiscal discipline strictly observed by the Duterte administration to fulfill its goal of high, sustainable and inclusive growth,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a statement Thursday.
He said fiscal discipline allowed for prudent spending of the government’s resources “so that new measures do not take away money from millions of poor Filipinos who also need help through existing programs.”
Dominguez noted Mr. Duterte had to veto a number of bills churned out by the 17th Congress in order to maintain fiscal discipline. The latter helped the country achieve a credit rating of “BBB+”, or two notches above minimum investment grade from debt watcher S&P Global Ratings.
“These vetoes do not mean that we do not support you. The President’s vetoes invite us to take another approach,” the Department of Finance (DOF) chief had told senators.
Dominguez noted that during the 17th Congress, 147 bills filed by legislators would have resulted in P178 billion in foregone revenues and the budget needing an additional P799 billion—a total of P977 billion that he claimed “the government cannot implement.”
“On top of these measures, 31 bills sought to create more free ports or ecozones, although as of 2017, the country already has 546 of these tax-free areas, all contributing to massive leakage in revenue collection,” Dominguez said.
He said the DOF was already assigning more full-time directors and staff to the weekly engagements with Congress. —BEN O. DE VERA
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