After the nation went through the jitters over the budget as a result of an overambitious gang at the House of Representatives, the deliberations on the budget is on track for a scheduled approval.
Key factors to the recovery, which are the budget and the proposed reform measures, need the quick and committed action of the legislature.
The program to reboot the economy after the devastation caused by the unrelenting pandemic starts as soon as the 2021 budget is signed by the President under the “Ingat Buhay Para sa Hanapbuhay” campaign.
Gary Olivar, former economic adviser to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said in an interview with Presidential Communications Operation Office Secretary Martin Andanar that the government allotment would have to come in as soon as possible to induce growth.
He explained that the rebound would be slow and government spending would be the driver since the private sector is crippled by the quarantine restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus.
Government spent 7.1 percent higher in the first quarter compared to a year ago despite the shrinking resources just to keep the lifeblood circulating in the economy.
Olivar said the budget would have to be supported by measures, primarily the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE) bill that seeks to provide the private sector with extra resources through the reduction of the corporate income tax.
Olivar added that based on the government experiences during past hardships, economic managers and the administration are bringing the nation to the correct way forward.
Noting various projections pointing to a contraction of between 5.5 percent to 7.3 percent for the economy by year’s end, Olivar said the momentum would have been faster had it not for the weaknesses inherited from the previous regime, referring to the massive underspending by former President Noynoy Aquino.
“Such weaknesses contributed to the dire effects on the economy and institutions when President Rodrigo Duterte took over and had also greatly affected the nation’s resilience,” Olivar noted.
He explained that while the country “is not keeping up with some of our neighbors” in the pace of the economy, recovery is “already happening.”
The wheels of change are now moving quicker at the House as its leadership vowed to fast-track the approval of measures including the key measures seeking to cut red tape and corruption.
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said the House under the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco is in full agreement with the Chief Executive to hasten the approval of all pending measures.
Romualdez, for instance, said the Chamber is readying a counterpart measure to Senate Bill 1844, which seeks to authorize the President to undertake steps to speed up the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certifications.
“The President is tired of continued corruption. He wants a legacy that genuine reforms are implemented under his term. He stressed that any delay in the release of business permits is tantamount to corruption,” Romualdez noted.
Billions of pesos are lost to corrupt practices in government each year while the responses to the coronavirus diseases emergency continues to be poorly funded.
The measure is timely since it goes around the need for Congress to grant emergency powers to the President to speed things up in government.
Under the bill, Mr. Duterte will have the authority to accelerate and streamline regulatory processes and procedures for new and pending applications and renewals of permits, licenses, clearances, certifications or authorizations, including fixing or shortening the periods provided under existing laws, regulations, issuances and ordinances.
Now that the storm is over, unity and purpose are needed to make for lost time caused by a group which held hostage the nation to satisfy its hunger for power.