MANILA, DECEMBER 20, 2010 (STAR) By Christina Mendez – Sen. Edgardo Angara cited yesterday the possible danger on the P21-billion conditional cash transfer (CCT) program the Aquino administration will implement for some 2.3 million indigent families.

Interviewed over dzBB radio, Angara said the program might cause instability in the government if not sustained through the years.

He said the project, dubbed the centerpiece program of President Aquino, might cause social unrest if not properly handled.

He noted that some developed countries in Europe are now facing big debts and huge deficit because of these so-called “entitlements.”

In the recently passed P1.645-trillion 2011 budget, Angara said the entitlements are doubled compared to other budgets that would enhance productivity programs like research, development, and infrastructure.

“The danger with entitlements and giveaways such as the CCT, is that you (the government) cannot take it back. Otherwise, there would be social unrest, if this project is withheld... the appropriations must be there, and people will continue to clamor and insist for the P21 billion to be continued,” Angara said.

“That’s also the problem facing the developed countries in Europe where their entitlements and pensions became runaway, which is why their deficits and debts grew bigger. It caused bigger debt and deficit,” he added.

“That’s the problem that I see in the 2011 budget where entitlements are bigger than the productivity enhancing items which will continue to stimulate and sustain growth,” he said.

In the 2011 budget, Angara, vice chairman of the Senate committee on finance, said the lump sum appropriations reached about P90 billion to P95 billion for various purposes such as public works, payroll and pensions.

He said the potential disaster in the CCT program could only be addressed if the government’s call for more public-private partnerships would prosper.

“I don’t see any growth in 2011. The only big hope of the administration is for its prediction to come true... that the private sector will go into investments in infrastructure. These are big ticket items such as harbors, airports and roads,” he said.

Angara called on the Palace to rethink its economic plans to focus on investment drives to be able to sustain the country’s growth.

He said even the country’s problems in electricity seem to have not been programmed, especially in Mindanao and several areas in the Visayas.

While the President has been banking on his popularity, which propelled him to the presidency, Angara said the present administration should show concrete steps to show that it really means business.

“Otherwise, it (popularity) will dissipate. The goodwill will be lost, as you know, we’ve seen that over the past 20 years from the first Aquino administration, we’ve seen how the popularity of administrations rise and fall, fall heavily,” Angara said.

Angara added that the President could use his popularity to his advantage by making it as a ticket to “attract big investment promotions” for the country.

“We need to determine which countries are prepared to invest in us,” he said, noting that the Korean and Chinese governments are the most bullish among Asian countries interested to invest here.

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