P330-BILLION  STIMULUS  PACKAGE  STILL  UP  IN  THE  AIR - NERI

MANILA, FEBRUARY 12, 2009
(STAR) By Jess Diaz - The administration’s P330-billion economic stimulus fund is still up in the air, Social Security System president Romulo Neri said yesterday.

Neri, former socioeconomic planning secretary, told congressmen that SSS is supposed to contribute to the fund, “but there is no decision on our part yet.”

He said the idea of SSS forking over an amount for the stimulus fund first came up during a meeting of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry or PCCI.

He said PCCI’s Donald Dee suggested that the government and the private sector put up a large infrastructure budget of P100 billion, of which P50 billion would come from private banks and P50 billion from government financial institutions (GFIs).

“The GFIs mentioned were SSS, GSIS (Government Service Insurance System), Land Bank, and Development Bank of the Philippines. Each is supposed to contribute P12.5 billion,” he said.

He added that SSS would be willing to invest in large infrastructure projects provided that its investments are safe and assured of high returns.

“We share the concern of congressmen that these funds, which belong to private sector workers, must be put in safe investments,” Neri stressed.

Militant party-list representatives have questioned Malacañang’s decision to tap workers’ pension funds for government projects.

On the part of GSIS, executive vice president Henrequieta Disuangco said its board has also not decided on its participation in the stimulus package.

A Land Bank representative made a similar statement.

As to the private sector’s P50-billion contribution to the infrastructure fund, Economic Planning Secretary Ralph Recto told congressmen last week that no bank has come forward to offer its contribution.

Neri said the bulk of the proposed P330-billion stimulus package would consist of “realignment and frontloading of resources.”

He was apparently referring to the P160 billion that will come from the proposed P1.415-trillion 2009 national budget.

Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla lamented that administration officials “have been talking about this P330-billion economic stimulus fund, and yet there is nothing concrete about it.”

“It’s now the middle of February, and nothing has happened since the global economic crisis erupted late last year,” he said.

One of the large infrastructure projects supposed to be funded out of the P100-billion government-private sector infrastructure budget is the extension of the mass transit system to Cavite.

“This project has been on the drawing board since 1997,” Remulla said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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