MANILA, July 22 , 2004 (STAR) By Marichu A. Villanueva  -   President Arroyo said yesterday the Philippine economy faces the prospect of entering into "a field of unprecedented expansion" in the medium term if the nation plays its cards well.

The President will give a glimpse of how her administration intends to do this through her five-point legislative package when she appears today at the joint luncheon meeting of businessmen’s groups at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

President Arroyo returned her focus to governance yesterday, a day after the two-week national vigil on hostaged Filipino truck driver, Angelo dela Cruz ended on a happy note with the latter’s finally being freed by the Iraqi militants who snatched him last July 7.

In her first public speaking engagement happy note with the latter’s finally being freed by the Iraqi militants who snatched him last July 7.

In her first public speaking engagement yesterday after the hostage crisis. President Arroyo sought to boost the hopes of the Filipino people about the bright economic prospects for the country.

"In the medium term there is large possibility that the national economy will enter into a field of unprecedented expansion, but only if we do what we have to do," the President said. However, she did not elaborate.

"There is little time to waste. We will quickly resolve some of the more pressing problems besetting us. We set ourselves to work for immediate achievements in these five key areas," the President said.

President Arroyo earlier bared her five-point "legislative package" which she would submit to the incoming 13th Congress as her priority reform measures when she delivers her State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) on July 26 at the Batasan Pambansa in Quezon City.

The President disclosed yesterday she would principally discuss first with the business and industry leaders two of her five "legislative packages," specifically on job creation and economic growth, as well as energy independence and savings.

The other three "legislative packages" include education and youth improvement; anti-corruption and good governance; and social justice and basic needs.

In her pre-SONA speech yesterday, President Arroyo unveiled the specific proposed legislative measures under the education reform package in her address before the 4th Annual National Convention of the Philippine School District Supervisors Association held at the Queen Margarette Hotel in Barangay Domoit, Lucena City, Quezon.

"We will prepare our youth to be the next generation of knowledge workers," President Arroyo vowed.

To address the perennial complaints of public school teachers on low pay, President Arroyo disclosed she would also ask Congress to finally pass into law her administration’s long pending bill on "Re-Engineering the Bureaucracy" which seeks to provide attractive incentives for early retirement program to all government workers.

"In order to further upgrade your salary as well as that of all teachers and other government employees, we need a law and I shall ask members of Congress… to pass a ‘Government Re-engineering’ law with a golden parachute so we can enhance the vision of a balanced deficit as the World Bank would want for us," she pointed out.

Statement of Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye: Budget deficit

Our economic team has already laid down sound, concrete and equitable proposals to address the budget deficit and these are being worked on with Congress.

We assure the public that every ounce of sacrifice that will be levied out of new tax measures will be matched with vigorous steps in revenue collections and in cutting waste in government.

We are bent on doing our share in terms of sacrifice and responsibility.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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