August 6, 2012
Transcript of Senator Franklin M. Drilon's Press Briefing
On the proposed budget
A number of senators congratulated the economic managers for the way the economy has been managed for the past one year. As shown by the 6.4% growth as the highest in the region except for China; in general, the senators were satisfied in the way this is being managed at this point. Having said that, the Committee identified a number of restrictions on the growth which need to be addressed if we are to achieve the projected 6-7% growth for the next several years until 2016.
NEDA identified severe bottlenecks in the infrastructure program. NEDA Secretary said that we have lagged behind our neighbors precisely because of very slow infrastructure developments particularly in terms of roads, bridges, ports and power. Second, human capital development, education and health. Third, the institution of governance meaning transparency and anti-corruption and red tape. Fourth is agricultural productivity which translates into higher cost of food, therefore competitiveness of our agricultural product is affected. Finally, strengthening of manufacturing and industry sector. These are recognized by the economic manages as areas which must be addressed. Indeed, the P2.006 trillion budget for 2013 would precisely addressed these constraints.
For example, in the infrastructure, the innovation that is done in the budget today is on the basis of the National Expenditure Program, the bidding process for these infrastructure projects can already be done short of awards. Bidding process indeed takes time. As we talk today, preparations are being undertaken by DPWH. In order to meet the requirements of the law and address the need to accelerate infra, DPWH would now bid out projects based on the NEP. Start and complete the process before an award is being made. In the briefing we had with the DPWH, all infra projects should be bidded out by December this year, so that come January 1, awarding of bids will be made on the basis of the approved GAA. In this manner, we will be able to commence these projects during summer months. And more importantly, 2013 being an election year, we don't want to be caught in the ban of awards of infrastructure projects. These are the innovations being done in order to address these bottlenecks in our infrastructure program. Incidentally, DPWH would have a budget of P152.9 billion.
The second area that we must address if we want to catch up with our neighbor and sustain our growth and achieve 6-7% growth in the next several years, human capital development would involve investment in education and health. The 2013 budget has the highest allocations for social services. On top of the list would be DepEd with P292.7 billion allocations - the highest in the entire bureaucracy - which includes the budget for school building. The DoH will have a budget of P56.8 billion; DSWD, P56.2 billion. All of these would now address this need to develop our human capital. We have a very talented people; unfortunately, because of inadequacy in our investment in our people, we lagged behind in terms of our educational attainment and in preparing our youth for the future that is why CTT program is premised on attendance of 85% of school days for children of school age.
Third item is the institution of governance, that's why the policy of this government isto emphasize transparency, strengthen anti-corruption drive, and continuously address red tape to make it harder and difficult for investors to secure licenses, etc. this is one area which the NEDA identified as an advantage of other countries like Vietnam
Fourth is agricultural productivity. It was noted that agriculture contributed only 1% in the Q1 which can stand improvements. That's the reason why support is provided in agriculture, particularly irrigation, farm-to-market roads, post-harvest facilities, and the DA is the 5th highest funded department with P74.1 billion in 2013. There is need to support agriculture in order that we can lower the cost of food. This can only achieve in terms of agricultural productivity. Second is that agriculture is essential because food security is critical to our country.
Finally, manufacturing and industry, we must strengthen this and this must be strengthened through conscious effort to improve our infrastructure and encourage participation by the private sector through PPP programs. As a contribution to the national economy, it is estimated that 75% is contributed by the private sector.
Basically, these are the highlights of the hearing on the proposed budget of P2.006 trillion.
On the RH bill
Well, my position and this is my position, we wait until the House would act on the RH bill. Because what is being voted upon tomorrow is the issue of whether or not they will terminate the debates - not yet on the bill itself. We have terminated the debates when we went on break. In the Senate, we are on the period of amendments. My position is we vote on the Senate version once the House would act on the RH bill. Because it does not make sense, when they fail to pass it, what will we do here?
On a suggestion for a turno en contra
Well, Turno en contra is traditionally availed of in the budget debates; in my 13 years in the Senate, I have not heard of a turno en contra in measures other than the budget. But that is readily available. That is allowed under our rules, our parliamentary practice.
On whether PNoy talks to him on RH Bill
The President has not talked to me.
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