SOCIOECONOMIC Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia on Wednesday said a transition to a federal system of government would have no effect on the infrastructure push of the Duterte administration.
“If anything at all, federalism will not be implemented in the next two to three years. Maybe toward the end of the administration,” he told reporters.
“So I don’t think it will be a stumbling block. It will take time to implement federalism. Lots of preparations are needed,” he added.
Economic managers are looking into the repercussions to the economy of the proposal to shift to federalism, he said.
“We have been doing some calculations. That is really not our main area of expertise but of course we need to do some economic exercise,” he said.
In a study released last year, state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies recommended that the proposed shift be carried out in two stages.
It said the first stage should deal with assignment of competencies and the relationship between the national government and regional government, with the power to organize local governments being one of the competencies exclusively assigned to the latter.
Meanwhile, the second stage should deal with the regional government and local governments.
Each regional government should come up with its own regional constitution or organic act that could be drafted through a regional constitutional convention, it said.
The Department of Finance has assured the public of the financial sustainability of the Duterte administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program that is designed to modernize the country’s infrastructure backbone by rolling out 75 flagship projects worth a combined $36 billion in investments.
This was in keeping with the government’s goal to sustain rapid growth, attract investments and attain economic inclusion, said Finance Undersecretary Grace Karen Singson.
Singson said the enactment into law of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, which will ensure a steady revenue flow for the government totaling P786 billion over the medium term, along with prudent fiscal management and declining debt service payments, would make the ambitious infrastructure buildup financially feasible.
“Though ambitious, every penny is worth spending for. The ‘Build, Build, Build’ program will create 1.7 million jobs by 2022 as well as secure our country’s fast-paced growth in the medium term,” she said.
Singson said the Duterte administration intended to spend around $158 billion over the next five years on the “Build, Build, Build” program, so that infrastructure spending would reach 7.3 percent of gross domestic product by the end of President Rodrigo Durterte’s term.
“With economic studies showing that every peso invested in infrastructure yields two pesos and four centavos in economic activity, we can expect this stimulus to cause a surge in our growth,” Singson said.
BY MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO