Balisacan seeks better coordination with Congress on priority measures

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PHILSTAR

By Diego Gabriel C. Robles

THE MARCOS administration’s economic team wants to have better coordination with the incoming 19th Congress on priority bills and the 2023 national budget, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary-designate Arsenio M. Balisacan said.

“We started sitting down with the leaders of the House to ensure that what we are putting on the table as priorities to address these current issues will be also supported by Congress by way of legislation,” said Mr. Balisacan in a June 16 roundtable with BusinessWorld editors.

“Dapat magkatugma [ang]ginagawa ng Executive branch at tsaka nung Legislative branch. (The priorities of the Executive branch and the Legislative branch should match).”

Mr. Balisacan, who also served as National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director-general under the Aquino administration, said there have been many instances when the Congress-approved national budget was “very different” from the original proposal.

“As a result, you lose coherence, you lose the prioritization, and we would want to minimize that by ensuring that [there]is a line directly connecting the Executive branch and Congress when it comes to legislation of our economic agenda,” he said.

Mr. Balisacan is considering having more frequent meetings with legislators through the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

The LEDAC is an avenue for high-level policy discussions between members of Congress and the Executive branch.

“I still have to see the appetite of our [incoming]President because it is the President that sits down [and]NEDA is [just]the secretariat,” he said.

However, there are no specific priority measures agreed upon by the economic team for now.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) earlier this week said the new administration must focus on key legislation such as the Real Property Valuation and Assessment Reform Act and the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act, which are the third and fourth packages of the Duterte administration’s tax reform program.

The PCCI also cited the proposed Capital Markets Development Act, Open Access in Data Transmission Act, a Better Internet Act, and amendments to the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law.

According to Mr. Balisacan, the preparations for the 2023 national budget began in January and the document is now in its “final form.”

Mr. Balisacan said the looming food and power crisis makes it crucial to review the priorities under the proposed 2023 budget.

“We’ll have a window to revisit that given the changes in local and global conditions… I would like to see ongoing projects to the extent that they are found to be economically and socially viable must continue. We must not resort to the old practice of stopping a project even if it’s good because it was initiated by the previous administration,” he said.

The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) last month approved a record P5.268-trillion cap on the national budget for 2023, which represents 22.1% of the gross domestic product (GDP). Next year’s budget is 4.9% higher than the P5.02-trillion budget for this year.

BusinessWorld editors’ roundtable with Mr. Balisacan will be aired on BusinessWorld’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BWorldPH ) at 11 a.m., June 27 (Monday).