Press Release
January 5, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today challenged Malacañang to be honest with the people on how much money is really available for pro-poor programs that would stimulate economic growth for the first quarter of 2006 amid cynicism over its claim that as much as P35 billion will be spent for the purpose.

Pimentel said that the Palace may be creating false expectations on the part of intended beneficiaries if it turns out that the money for these programs exists only on paper.

I suggest that they should check their figures first and make sure that funds are available for food, health, housing, public works and education programs that they have been bandying about. Otherwise, they may not be able to deliver to the people the aid or services that they have promised, he said.

The minority leader gave this comment in reaction to the clarification of administration economic managers that only P10 billion, and not P35 billion, was generated from the cost-cutting and budget deficit reduction measures last year which can be realigned to the pro-poor programs.

He criticized President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for announcing the so-called economic pump-priming plan with a haphazardly-prepared funding component.

Pimentel noted that the economic managers tried to make up for the boo-boo by saying that the funding component can be augmented by the P17.5 billion Internal Revenue Allotment for local government units and funds generated from the initial implementation of the expanded Value Added Tax in the latter part of 2005.

However, he pointed out that it is the LGUs, and not Malacañang , that will decide on how the P17.5 billion additional IRA would be spent. Noting that the availability of this amount by virtue of a recent Supreme Court decision had been announced by the Palace long before, he said it is possible that the LGUs have already allocated it to local projects which are remotely related to the five priorities specified by the Palace.

Moreover, Pimentel observed that when the Palace announced that the P17.5 billion IRA would be integrated into the economic pump-priming plan, there was no mention that it had secured the consent or approval of the local government units through the leagues of provinces, cities and municipalities.

Pimentel also asked whether the savings from last years budget deficit reduction and other funds can be immediately released and spent in the light of the statement of Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila about the need for congressional approval for such appropriations.

As gleaned from these circumstances, its pretty obvious that the President and her economic managers failed to get their act together before unveiling the economic pump-priming plan, he said.

The minority leader said there is no need for the administration to concoct an instant pro-poor spending program, apparently intended to boost the Presidents image, if only the P1.06 trillion budget for 2006 was approved by Congress on time.

News Latest News Feed