NOY UNVEILED P72-B STIMULUS PACKAGE / MALAYA: P-NOY'S STIMULUS PACKAGE

MANILA
, OCTOBER 14, 2011 (STAR) President Benigno Aquino III unveiled Wednesday a P72-billion stimulus package of public works and poverty reduction projects as a weakening global economy forced the country to cut growth forecasts.

The additional spending authorized between now and the end of the year includes a support fund for local governments of at least P6.5 billion for infrastructure development and poverty alleviation, Aquino said in a speech. Economic officials cut their 2011 growth forecast to a range of 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent, from 5 percent to 6 percent.

“We want to put ourselves in a position to grow faster when the world recovers,” Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima told reporters. “When markets abroad weaken, no economy will be unaffected. The only question is how much growth will be affected and what we’re doing is to help counter the slowdown.”

The Philippines became the first Asian nation outside Japan to announce a stimulus plan this year to bolster slowing growth, with neighboring Indonesia choosing to cut interest rates Tuesday while others including Malaysia and South Korea have refrained from further monetary tightening. The spending package will use funds from other projects that are behind schedule, the government said, enabling it to trim its budget deficit forecast.

“This is a positive movement for the domestic economy especially if the central bank wants to remain on hold for the rest of the year,” said Betty Rui Wang, a Hong Kong-based economist at Standard Chartered Plc. “But the current package is quite small. I doubt whether the impact will be substantial.”

“If the fiscal stimulus does its job, this should give the necessary push to keep our economic growth in a solid upward trajectory,” central bank Governor Amando Tetangco said. The Philippines has sufficient liquidity, a stable exchange rate and a “manageable” inflation outlook along with “fiscal space” to help support economic growth, he said in an e-mail reply to questions.

Growth in the $200-billion economy may range from 5 percent to 6 percent in 2012, compared with a previous forecast of 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent, Economic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga said. Growth this year would have missed even today’s lower forecasts without the stimulus package, the government said.

The government will accelerate a plan to upgrade railways in Metro Manila, build low-cost housing, and repair roads and bridges damaged by typhoons, Budget Secretary Butch Abad told reporters after presenting the new economic targets to lawmakers. Elaine R. Alanguilan, Bloomberg

MALAYA COMMENTARY

PNoy’s stimulus package

BY DUCKY PAREDES

‘If the COA will just apply forensic auditing and reconstructive accounting techniques, such action by COA will provide solution for stopping LGU officials’ abuse.’

IS it only because America is into putting together a stimulus package that the Philippines in putting together funds from expected government savings and is about to spend P72 billion in what is also being heralded as a stimulus package? Gaya-gaya?

In our case, the stimulus package is expected to have a political effect -- boost the approval ratings of the local government units, which according to PNoy are improving, as are his own performance ratings.

"At sigurado naman pong aakyat pa ang mga rating na iyan, kung mapupunta sa mga proyektong may kabuluhan ang pondong pinagpawisan ng taumbayan. Naintindihan naman po siguro natin na dahil sa bumabang koleksyon noong 2009, nabawasan po ang IRA ng ating mga LGUs. Pero dahil po alam kong hindi puwedeng pabayaan lang ang mga LGU, na siyang nagbibigay ng agarang lingap lalo na ngayong panahon ng kalamidad, heto po ang good news ko sa inyo: ilalabas po natin ang ating LGU support fund, na nagkakahalagang 6.5 billion pesos," he said.

The LGUs will receive P273.31 billion in IRA in 2012, lower than their 2011 IRA of P286.94 billion. The P6.5 billion will help fill the gap.

Aquino cites the 2011 Survey on Good Local Governance last September which showed that 76 percent of the respondents are satisfied with their governors, 82 percent with their mayors and 75 percent with their vice mayors.

A reader (who wishes to be anonymous) notes, though, that we all ought to keep a closer watch on our LGU’s finances: "With reference to the CamSur financial analysis particularly the fund sources, there should be a law for mandatory performance appraisal and analyses of actual application of all the funds whether they produced concrete results as targeted/planned and who benefitted.

"This is similar to the rate of Return on Investments (ROI) for the public to know where their taxes were applied and who spent what and where. If the COA will just apply forensic auditing and reconstructive accounting techniques, such action by COA will provide solution for stopping LGU officials’ abuse of the limited financial resources of our country and avoiding a ‘bottomless pit and wangwang’ syndrome from being a going concern.

"This suggestion is just wishful thinking, as most members of our Congress were former local government officials and some if not most of them have mysterious skeletons in their closets, thus making it impossible for the Information/Transparency bill to become a law, at this moment."

***

A friend wants to place a friendly bet on whether or not the following can also happen in our country. Here is the news story that he wonders about whether it can happen here:

"Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison Tuesday on charges of abuse of office in signing a gas deal with Russia, a verdict the European Union and the United States both condemned as politically motivated.

"Tymoshenko, the driving force of the 2004 pro-democracy Orange Revolution and now the nation’s top opposition leader, denounced the trial as rigged by President Viktor Yanukovych to get rid of a political opponent.

"The case has galvanized the opposition. A crowd of several dozen angry Tymoshenko supporters clashed following the verdict with helmeted riot policed who flooded the city center, but they were quickly pushed away and it was unclear if the protests would last.

"Judge Rodion Kireyev declared Tymoshenko, 50, guilty of exceeding her authority as premier when she signed a natural gas imports contract with Russia in 2009. He also banned her from occupying government posts for three years after the completion of her prison term and fined her 1.5 billion hryvna ($190 million or euro140 million) for the damages her actions cost the state.

"Tymoshenko, clad in a beige dress and wearing her trademark blond braid around her head, has called the trial a "lynching." She appeared unfazed by the verdict and began addressing reporters in the courtroom without waiting for Kireyev to finish reading the lengthy ruling.

"She said Yanukovych wrote the verdict himself and compared it to the show trials and horrific purges by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

"The year 1937 has returned to Ukraine with this verdict and all the repression of citizens," she said. "As for me, be sure that I will not stop my fight even for a minute. I will always be with you as long as it is necessary."

And what’s my friend’s bet? Whether, in the Philippine scenario, the case could even get to a court and whether, here, the case would galvanize anyone into demonstrating against bringing the once all-powerful former leader before the bar of justice to be meted the just punishment for her crimes? Any takers?

***

Will someone explain to this non-lawyer what difference it makes that a case supposedly assigned to the Supreme Court’s 3rd Division is decided on by the 2nd Division, after the assigned ponente (Spanish for "proposer of a motion." In this case, the justice assigned to write the decision.) was transferred from the 3rd to the 2nd Division?

It is this non-lawyer’s impression that cases of little import are assigned to the divisions (composed of 5 justices) that do not involve "the constitutionality of a treaty, international or executive agreement, as well as those involving the constitutionality, application, or operation of presidential decrees, proclamations, orders, instructions, ordinances, and other regulations."

So, why should it matter which division made the decision? Aren’t the five justices of one division equal to the justices of another division? Would five justices, as learned and as steeped in legal lore not be equal to those in another division? Didn’t the ponente know that cases assigned to one division cannot be transferred to another division?

If as the SC says this is their "internal rule." Why, if this is true, did the ponente not know that "internal rule?" (By the way, these rules have never been published and we don’t really know whether the SC creates these internal rules as needed. LOL)

What would it matter that one or another division heard a particular case?

What the Supreme Court decided – to hear the case again (instead of just insisting that the decision was final) -- brings up all kinds of speculations and suspicions that does a Supreme Court that has been changing its mind over and over again in so many cases absolutely no good.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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