Congress urged to align bills to support Marcos' fiscal agenda

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

July 11, 2022, 6:54 pm

MANILA – Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab on Monday called on the House of Representatives to support President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.'s economic and fiscal agenda by passing laws that are essential to rebuilding the economy, spurring job creation, encouraging small businesses, and reducing poverty.

Ungab said the review and evaluation done by the President’s economic team for the government’s medium-term macroeconomic assumptions and fiscal program, and growth targets for FY 2022 to 2028 are "sensible" moves to address the economic challenges the country is facing such as the pandemic, high inflation rate, and impact of geopolitical conflicts, among others.

“The pronouncements made by the economic team as regards the newly updated medium-term macroeconomic assumptions, fiscal program, and growth targets for 2022 to 2028, while underscoring the administration’s priorities and fiscal strategy, including the domestic developments and external pressures, will serve as a guide not only to the government but to economists, businesses, and stakeholders in accelerating economic growth,” Ungab said.

He added that this would be a "pivotal point" for the Philippines towards the trajectory of resilient economic recovery.

He emphasized the significance of having a well-crafted economic framework and fiscal program geared towards “achieving inclusive and sustainable development, responsive to the aspirations of the Filipino people”.

The medium term fiscal framework’s goals, he said, are reducing the deficit, promoting fiscal sustainability, and enabling robust economic growth, which all coincide with the objectives of the updated medium-term macroeconomic assumptions and fiscal program, which include the creation of more quality jobs, reducing poverty incidence, and achieving inclusive and resilient growth within the term of the President until 2028.

“For our part, Congress ought to support the President’s economic agenda by passing laws essential to rebuilding the economy, spurring the creation of jobs, encouraging MSMEs (micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises), and reducing poverty," Ungab said.

Ungab said the 2023 expenditure program of the national government will already be aligned with the updated medium-term fiscal framework.

Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman earlier said the latest gross domestic product assumption for the year was changed to between 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent, lower than the 7 percent to 8 percent approved by economic managers in May, “in consideration of recent external and domestic developments.”

However, the 2023-2025 forecasts were hiked to 6.5 percent to 8 percent from the previous 6 percent to 7 percent.

The 2026-2028 growth assumption is between 6.5 percent and 8 percent.

“The increase in household consumption and private investments, along with a robust manufacturing industry, high vaccination rate, improved health care capacity, and the upward trend on tourism and employment has allowed us to safely re-open the economy and register a positive growth for the first three months of 2022,” according to a statement.

Relatively, the inflation assumption for the year was changed to between 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent from 3.7 percent to 4.7 percent.

The 2023 figures were also adjusted to 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent from 2 percent to 4 percent but the 2024-2025 figure was retained at 2 percent to 4 percent and was even approved as the range until 2028.

The changes were made as the rate of price increases is seen to accelerate further in the coming months due in part to the volatility in global oil prices.

In terms of fiscal numbers, the revenue assumption of PHP3.304 trillion for this year was kept, along with the PHP3.632 trillion for 2023 and PHP4.062 trillion for 2024.

However, the 2025 assumption of PHP4.548 trillion was hiked to PHP4.576 trillion.

By 2026, revenues are seen to hit PHP5.155 trillion while an increase to PHP5.821 trillion and PHP6.589 trillion are seen in the succeeding two years.

The budget gap for this year was kept at PHP1.65 trillion and the 2023 assumption at PHP1.453 trillion.

“This will be achieved through improved spending efficiency and alignment of budget priorities that are anchored on the administration’s two eight-point socio-economic agendas, one for the near-term and another for the medium-term,” the statement read. (PNA)