Duterte’s economic team seeks swift OK of 2021 budget

MANILA, Sept 7 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team has sought the swift enactment by Congress of the proposed 2021 national budget as a key component of the government’s comprehensive plan to “rebuild the economy and decisively defeat” coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

On top of the proposed 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA) of PHP4.506 trillion, the Duterte administration is also urging lawmakers to act in a “timely and decisive” manner on several economic priority measures designed to accelerate economic recovery and make support available for businesses, workers, and families that were hit hard by the coronavirus-induced global crisis, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a statement Sunday.

Dominguez made use of the recent Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC)’s briefing for the House committee on appropriations to thank the legislators from both chambers for passing a “fiscally responsible” Bayanihan To Recover As One Act (Bayanihan 2), which, he said, “allows the country to meet the challenges of economic recovery without imposing a heavy burden on future generations.”

He said the other priority measures that require prompt congressional action are  the  proposed Financial Institutions’ Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act, which will allow banks to dispose of bad loans and non-performing assets (NPAs) through asset management companies; and  the Government Financial Institutions’ Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery (GUIDE) bill, which seeks to allow state-run banks to form a special holding company that will infuse equity, with strict conditions, into strategically important companies facing insolvency. 

Dominguez said the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE), which will  immediately lower the corporate income tax (CIT) rate from 30 to 25 percent once made effective and will enhance the flexibility and efficiency of the incentives system for businesses, complete the list of priority measures that the Congress needs to act on swiftly to ensure  the country’s speedy and strong recovery  from the prolonged health emergency that has battered the global economy.

“The swift enactment of CREATE, FIST, GUIDE and the 2021 budget will serve to accelerate our economic recovery. We should not delay providing urgent and necessary relief to our people,” said Dominguez during last Friday’s DBCC briefing for the House appropriations panel on the proposed GAA or 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP).

The DBCC is composed of the heads of the Departments of Budget and Management (DBM) and of Finance (DOF), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP); and a senior representative from the Office of the President (OP).

“We are committed to working closely with you on the recovery measures so that these can be enacted in a timely, decisive, and responsible manner,” Dominguez told members of the panel chaired by ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap.

The Duterte administration will also continue to work with the legislature in passing the remaining packages of the comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) that will, among others, institute reforms in property valuation and in the taxation of the financial sector, Dominguez said.

He said economic recovery also rests on sustaining President Duterte’s signature program “Build, Build, Build,” as sound infrastructure investments provide the largest multiplier effect on the economy in the form of more jobs, increased consumption, and the generation of additional productive activities. (MNS)

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