Monday, August 4, 2014
MANILA-Instead of piecemeal amendments to budget laws, Congress should instead "codify" laws, rules including “best practices and reforms” on public sector budgeting, Senator Sonny Angara emphasized, in reaction to reports that Malacanang will push for a bill redefining budgetary savings and governing its use.
“The time has come to revisit all laws on public expenditures,” Angara said, explaining that the two principal laws guiding budgeting were conceived “when desktop computers were still alien in the bureaucracy.”
The senator, who is a lawyer by profession, was referring to the 37-year-old Presidential Decree 1177, issued by Ferdinand Marcos in 1977, and Executive Order 292, or the Administrative Code of 1987, which came into force a year after Corazon Aquino assumed power.
“In fact, according to budget experts, whole sections of PD 1177 were attached to the Administrative Code. To a large degree, the portion on national government budgeting, which is Book VI, was copy-pasted from PD 1177," the lawmaker said.
Angara also noted that the two measures were “executive issuances.”
“They were not products of the legislative branch, but by a presidency possessing lawmaking powers,” he said.
“But that should not be the excuse for consolidating all laws pertaining to government budgeting under one code. The main reason should be the wealth of experiences, reforms, initiatives, lessons of the Philippine budgeting system,” Angara pointed out.
“For example, in 1987 when the present Administrative Code took effect, the national budget was P121 billion. It has grown by 21-fold since. For next year, the proposed budget is P2.6 trillion,” he said.
Another factor which was not there when the two budget laws were drafted is the revolution in information technology, Angara said.
“Wala pang e-budgeting and paperless transactions noon. Budget issuances then were sent through snail mail. ‘Di tulad ngayon na hindi lang emailed, nasa Twitter pa. It won’t hurt if new technologies would be supported by a new legal infrastructure," the former congressman from Aurora said.
Angara explained that judicial decisions on budget aspects, such as the nullification of DAP and PDAF, might also require some corresponding adjustments in the law.
"There is also the need to future-proof the budget against an executive branch who will treat the “treasury as its own personal piggy bank,” the neophyte senator said.
“Ayos lang kung matino ang nakaupo. Pero paano sa darating na panahon kung merong gusto umabuso sa kaban ng bayan?" he exclaimed.
INCOME DISPARITY A ROADBLOCK TO INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT Rosy economic outlook must be coupled with institutional, labor market reforms
MANILA-The economic gains in the 5th State of the Nation Address by President Benigno Aquino III must be coupled with reforms that will promote inclusive, broad-based development. This includes reforms to even out the rural-urban wage gap, which remains a barrier to many sectors of the population from enjoying the fruits of economic reform.
In his penultimate SONA, President Aquino touted the upgrade in the country’s investment grade rating, saying the country is now more open to business. He also emphasized the improved revenue collection efforts and said the country’s debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio went down, and thus funds for interests went to social services.
Experts note, however, that the Philippines’ overall ratio of rural-urban wage gap at 67 percent has remained constant over the last decade. Differences in labor policies between commercial industries and rural labor reinforce the disparity.
Such income disparity has brought about social inequalities between the rural and urban populations. Reversing this pattern of uneven development requires initiating policies and institutional reforms.
Within this context, the Angara Centre for Law and Economics presents the second roundtable discussion of the Andrew Tan Lecture Series on the topic “Promoting Inclusive Growth: Identifying Opportunities for Focused Reform” on 20 August 2014, Wednesday, at the Malcolm Hall, College of Law, University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
This lecture is part of a joint study undertaken by the Angara Centre with the World Bank to identify the areas of persistent underperformance and inequality in the Philippines.
Among the questions the roundtable will center on are: 1) What is the extent of disparity between regions? 2)What is the response of labor markets? and 3) How do political institutions limit reform and distort the outcome of economic policies?
Teams of economists and leading researchers from the Philippines and abroad will present their study and recommend actionable policy initiatives. Leading this lecture are Dr. James Robinson of Harvard University, Dr. Pablo Querubin of New York University and Dr. John C. Nye, Frederic Bastiat Chair in Political Economy at the Mercatus Center, George Mason University and Research Director at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.
MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda renewed her call for continuous inquiry on the increasing incidents of media killings in the country as she lamented the low conviction rate in cases of slain journalists.
Legarda, a former broadcast journalist, filed anew a Resolution calling on the Senate to conduct an inquiry on incidents of media killings and said that, “the unresolved killings of media practitioners in the country will remain a threat to the constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms of expression and of the press - two elements which are critical for genuine democracy to flourish.”
In a Senate hearing on media killings conducted last May, the Philippine National Police reported that of the 48 incidents of media killings recorded since 2001, only six were resolved with convictions even as 36 cases were filed in court and 12 are on trial. Six of the cases were archived, five were dismissed and four were resolved with acquittal by the courts.
Legarda noted that the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) 2014 Global Impunity Index ranked the Philippines third among countries “where journalists are slain and the killers go free.”
Iraq and Somalia ranked first and second, respectively.
Meanwhile, the 2013 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, which monitors the attitude and intention of governments towards media freedom, ranked the Philippines 147th among 179 countries covered by the report.
“We have to put a stop to the killing of journalists and media practitioners. We need to know what hinders the immediate resolution of these cases so we can find solutions and propose appropriate measures. We cannot condone these crimes and we must not tolerate a culture of impunity,” said Legarda.
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