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Noy OKs P3-T budget for 2016


JULY 7 ---President Aquino approved the proposed P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016 during a Cabinet meeting yesterday. This is the final budget bill that the President will propose to Congress in his last year in office. File photo
President Aquino approved the proposed P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016 during a Cabinet meeting yesterday. This is the final budget bill that the President will propose to Congress in his last year in office. The proposed budget also coincides with next year’s presidential elections. The budget message will be submitted to Congress a day after Aquino delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said. The proposed budget next year is 15.2 percent higher than the 2015 national budget and comprises 19.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The biggest chunk of the budget will be allocated for the Department of Education (P436.5 billion) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (P107.6 billion). “The 2016 budget consolidates all the reforms started in 2010 and sets a firm foundation for the continuity of reforms beyond this administration,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told The STAR last night. Abad said the proposed budget bill is aptly titled “Paggugol na Matuwid: Saligan ng Tuloy-tuloy na Pag-Unlad.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Lawmakers to examine P3-T budget for lump sums


JULY 8 ---Lawmakers vowed yesterday to scrutinize the proposed P3-trillion national budget for 2016 for possible lump sums. File photo
Lawmakers vowed yesterday to scrutinize the proposed P3-trillion national budget for 2016 for possible lump sums and hidden appropriations that could be used by administration candidates in next year’s elections. “If Malacañang thinks it can get away with a bloated budget proposal that is unabashedly designed to fill the ruling party’s campaign kitty to the brim, then it is wrong,” Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said. Ridon said they are prepared to scrutinize every centavo and line item in the proposal. “We will exhaust all means to expose each and every questionable item and we will not tolerate any loophole that will enable the President to juggle billions of public funds in his last year in office,” he said. The proposed budget is 15.2 percent higher than this year’s budget and comprises 19.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Ridon said the opposition bloc would summon members of the Development Budget Coordinating Council and heads of departments to report on how this year’s budget is being spent, noting that the President and his men were able to “pass provisions in the current budget that makes it vulnerable to corruption.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy hikes 2016 infra budget


JULY 11 --President Aquino III 
President Aquino is ramping up infrastructure spending in 2016, his last year in office. Aquino is increasing funding for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) by P110.5 billion, from P290.5 billion this year to P401 billion. The DPWH will get the second biggest slice of the proposed P3-trillion national budget for next year. Aquino has publicly commended Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson for reducing corruption in his agency and for attaining efficiency in the implementation of infrastructure projects. He has also cited personnel of the department for cooperating with Singson in undertaking reforms. At one time, the President ordered the grant of P10,000 incentive to DPWH employees. Aside from the DPWH, infrastructure funds are also lodged in the budgets of such agencies as the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Department of Education (DepEd). READ MORE...

ALSO: Noy’s CCT budget barely changed since 2014


JULY 8 --Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said P62.35 billion under the 2016 budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development has been allocated for the program for the poorest of the poor. File photo
The budget for the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program has barely changed in the last three years of the Aquino administration.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said P62.35 billion under the 2016 budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been allocated for the program for the poorest of the poor. A total of P62.6 billion was allocated for the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) in 2014 and P62.32 billion this year. This was even though the number of beneficiaries increased from 800,000 to 4.4 million families. The 2011 budget for CCT was P29.2 billion, P39.4 billion in 2012 and P44.3 billion in 2013. The CCT budget during the incumbency of former President and now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was P10 billion in 2010, P5 billion in 2009 and P299 million in 2008. Aquino approved during a Cabinet meeting on Monday the proposed P3-trillion national budget for 2016. The proposal will be submitted to Congress on July 28, a day after the President delivers his fifth and last state of the nation address. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino's PPP legacy


JULY 2015 --IBON Features—Five State of the Nation Addresses (SONAs) ago, President Aquino declared public-private partnership (PPP) as the key to many of the country’s needs.
Ten PPP awarded projects worth Php168.9 billion later and one SONA left to give, how did Aquino’s centerpiece program fare? Aquino has been often criticized for the slow progress of his flagship infrastructure program. There are 15 more PPP projects under various stages of bidding with an indicative cost of Php549.4 billion. Measured against this, Aquino has only awarded 40% of the total number of projects identified. They are equivalent to less than a quarter of the overall indicative cost. Before he steps down, Aquino aims to award five more PPP items. The largest is the Php122.8-billion Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike. Like others in the PPP portfolio, the bid schedule for this mega-project has been moved by several months. As such, doubts persist on meeting the target of 15 awarded PPP projects. But the number of contracts Aquino has sealed will not define his PPP legacy. His biggest contribution is the kind of PPP environment that his regime has began to build. Aquino made a three-decade old neoliberal scheme even more desirable to the local oligarchs and their foreign backers. He has paved the way for more and bigger privatization deals for his successor. Twenty-seven more projects in various stages of pre-bidding preparations are in the pipeline of the PPP Center. READ MORE...

ALSO by Rey Gamboa: Big strides by Senate’s big man


JULY 9 --By Rey Gamboa
Despite all the seemingly divisive political issues that percolated during the past 24 months, the Big Man of the Senate managed to put in a lot of work to keep true to the goals that were set when he accepted the mantle of leadership of the 16th Congress’ Upper House. With a determination that inspires, Senate President Franklin Drilon has plodded month after month to achieve what his leadership had declared to do: improve the economic landscape to spur investments and set off massive job creation and strengthen the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. By harnessing the idealism of a predominantly young Senate, keeping an open mind during countless deliberations, and maintaining constructive relationships with co-lawmakers in both the Upper and Lower Houses and the Executive branch, Drilon managed some pretty big strides in moving forward. Giving life to languishing bills In particular, during the second session of the current Congress, Drilon said a number of reform bills, which had for decades languished in the legislative mill, were finally passed. READ MORE...

Phl Stock Exchange slips to 7,300 level on China rout


JULY 8 --THE LOCAL stock barometer slid to the 7,300 levels on Wednesday as the stock market meltdown in China soured risk appetite across the region. The Philippine Stock Exchange lost 79.22 points or 1.06 percent to close at 7,363.43, marking the fourth straight session in the doldrums. Across the region, stock markets were in the red as the selldown in China started to make regional markets, already worried over the Greek debt crisis, more jittery.
Investment bank Merrill Lynch BofA said this market crash signified loss of faith on the Chinese government’s ability to manage asset prices and warned that the damage could spread far beyond the stock market. It said the value of renminbi, debt and property in China may be re-priced lower as a result of this. It warned that this could be a trigger for a financial crisis in China. Wilson Sy, director at Philequity Management Inc., said the rout in China was a concern for local markets, especially as this was happening in tandem with the debt crisis in Greece. He noted that the 33 percent decline from the peak of the Chinese markets and the suspension of trading on so many Chinese companies were unprecedented. “China is the second biggest economy and a slowdown in China which we’re seeing is going to affect global growth,” Sy said. READ MORE...

ALSO: The short, weird, and counterfeit life of ‘Aquinomics’


JULY 8 --by Yen Makabenta 
Nobody uses the eponym now, not the cabinet secretary who brashly tried to sell it to the media and the public. Nor the business leaders and opinion writers who fell for the con and gave it life, however fleeting. (eponym, n., the name of an object or activity which is also the name of the person who first produced the object or did the activity. From Cambridge English dictionary) I started researching this column with full civility toward President Aquino and his administration. I said to myself, if in my research, I discover some substance and rigor to Aquinomics, comparable say to the authenticity of Reaganomics, I would give credence to its existence, perhaps even to its claimed achievements. Towards the close of Aquino’s first year in office in June 2011, there was a lot of talk about the President’s positive impact on the economy. Oddly, his first economic planning secretary, Cayetano Paderanga Jr., resigned his post, before the country could feel his presence and after he had boasted that the economy could attain 8 percent GDP growth. Finance Cesar Purisima started the buzz about Aquinomics, on the wild theory that Aquino had as much claim to his own eponym since he studied economics at the Ateneo, whereas Ronald Reagan was just a graduate of Hollywood.
Not surprisingly, the crony newspapers were receptive to using the eponym. Their columnists amplified the claims. Inquirer briefing on Aquinomics --The earliest article on Aquinomics that I found was a column by Cielito Habito in the Inquirer, June 21, 2011. (Habito is a bona fide economist; he served as economic planning secretary in the government of president Fidel V. Ramos). The piece was boldly titled “Aquinomics’: What difference has it made?” RED MORE...plus readers" reponses


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Noy OKs P3-T budget for 2016


President Aquino approved the proposed P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016 during a Cabinet meeting yesterday. This is the final budget bill that the President will propose to Congress in his last year in office. File photo

MANILA, JULY 13, 2015 (PHILSTAR) By Jess Diaz - President Aquino approved the proposed P3.002-trillion national budget for 2016 during a Cabinet meeting yesterday.

This is the final budget bill that the President will propose to Congress in his last year in office.

The proposed budget also coincides with next year’s presidential elections.

The budget message will be submitted to Congress a day after Aquino delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

The proposed budget next year is 15.2 percent higher than the 2015 national budget and comprises 19.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The biggest chunk of the budget will be allocated for the Department of Education (P436.5 billion) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (P107.6 billion).

“The 2016 budget consolidates all the reforms started in 2010 and sets a firm foundation for the continuity of reforms beyond this administration,” Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told The STAR last night.

Abad said the proposed budget bill is aptly titled “Paggugol na Matuwid: Saligan ng Tuloy-tuloy na Pag-Unlad.”

READ MORE...

The general framework of the planned national budget for next year is contained in a memorandum Abad has issued to state agencies.

“The fiscal position for FY (fiscal year) 2016 will translate to an obligation budget ceiling of P3 trillion, up by P394 billion or 15.1 percent more than the FY 2015 budget of P2.606 trillion,” Abad said.

Of the P3-trillion outlay, he said 80 percent or P2.419 trillion would “be eaten up by the forward estimates or the cost of ongoing programs and projects.”

“This leaves funds available for expanded and new programs and projects of P580.9 billion, nearly one-fifth of the proposed budget ceiling. This additional fiscal space will be directed towards addressing critical funding gaps in various sectors,” he said.

He added that the government expects to collect revenues amounting to P2.697 trillion, 18.5 percent more than estimated total collections this year.


PHILSTAR

Lawmakers to examine P3-T budget for lump sums By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 8, 2015 - 12:00am


Lawmakers vowed yesterday to scrutinize the proposed P3-trillion national budget for 2016 for possible lump sums. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Lawmakers vowed yesterday to scrutinize the proposed P3-trillion national budget for 2016 for possible lump sums and hidden appropriations that could be used by administration candidates in next year’s elections.

“If Malacañang thinks it can get away with a bloated budget proposal that is unabashedly designed to fill the ruling party’s campaign kitty to the brim, then it is wrong,” Kabataan party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said.

Ridon said they are prepared to scrutinize every centavo and line item in the proposal.

“We will exhaust all means to expose each and every questionable item and we will not tolerate any loophole that will enable the President to juggle billions of public funds in his last year in office,” he said.

The proposed budget is 15.2 percent higher than this year’s budget and comprises 19.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Ridon said the opposition bloc would summon members of the Development Budget Coordinating Council and heads of departments to report on how this year’s budget is being spent, noting that the President and his men were able to “pass provisions in the current budget that makes it vulnerable to corruption.”

READ MORE...

Inclusive development

Abad said the proposed P3.002-trillion budget for 2016 will help implement more programs and projects to further drive the domestic economy.

“With this proposed budget, we can build on our reform successes over the last five years, as well as take on the challenges in our bid for inclusive development,” he said in a statement.

“This is a sizable budget proposal…our focus now is to help our agencies make optimal use of their allocations. This includes enhancing their capacities for budget planning, procurement, and project implementation, all of which are key to the prompt delivery of public services and the continuing growth of our economy,” he said.

The proposed budget is 15.2 percent higher compared to the P2.606-trillion national budget for this year. The DBM said programs and projects supporting “rapid, inclusive, and sustainable” growth were given priority.

“The proposed 2016 budget will play an instrumental role in empowering our citizens, be it through antipoverty programs, our good governance campaign, or our broader socio-economic development strategy,” Abad said.

“We continue to hew to the principle of daang matuwid, where leadership is fully expressed as transparent, accountable, and participatory,” he added.

Higher government expenditures

Government expenditures under the 2016 proposed budget is seen climbing to 19.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, higher than the 18.7 percent ratio estimated for this year.

The proposed budget also increased the fiscal space to P580.9 billion for new programs and projects, or double the P287.3 billion allocated this year.

“We’ve shown that in the last five years, good governance – especially in the management of public funds – leads to better government performance and real benefits for our people,” Abad said.

Last hurrah

Senate finance committee chairman Sen. Francis Escudero said they would try to find ways and means to ensure that government under-spending, which has been prevalent in the past years, would be avoided, or at least minimized.

“This is the administration’s last hurrah against under-spending. We’ll be asking them how they can win in the final round,” he added. – With Christina Mendez, Kathleen Martin


PHILSTAR

Noy hikes 2016 infra budget By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 11, 2015 - 12:00am 1 3 googleplus0 0


President Aquino

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino is ramping up infrastructure spending in 2016, his last year in office.

Aquino is increasing funding for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) by P110.5 billion, from P290.5 billion this year to P401 billion.

The DPWH will get the second biggest slice of the proposed P3-trillion national budget for next year.

Aquino has publicly commended Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson for reducing corruption in his agency and for attaining efficiency in the implementation of infrastructure projects.

He has also cited personnel of the department for cooperating with Singson in undertaking reforms. At one time, the President ordered the grant of P10,000 incentive to DPWH employees.

Aside from the DPWH, infrastructure funds are also lodged in the budgets of such agencies as the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Department of Education (DepEd).

READ MORE...

The DOTC is in charge of airport and seaport projects, while DepEd has its school building program.

In a recent hearing, the joint Senate-House of Representatives oversight committee on public spending discovered that DepEd has not yet touched its P39-billion classroom construction fund for this year because of previous years’ backlog.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, chairman of the House appropriations committee, and his Senate counterpart, Francis Escudero, jointly head the oversight committee.

The panel also unearthed backlog in the implementation of seaport and airport building and improvement projects.

Several economists have blamed the slowdown in government expenditures for the weak performance of the economy in the first quarter. Administration officials have promised to accelerate public spending.

The DepEd will get the biggest slice of the 2016 budget and the largest funding increase.

Its funds will go up from P321.1 billion this year to P436.5 billion, or by P115.4 billion.

The next largest adjustment will go to the Department of National Defense, whose budget will increase by P72.1 billion to P172 billion. The DND outlay includes funds for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its major services.


PHILSTAR

Noy’s CCT budget barely changed since 2014 By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 8, 2015 - 12:00am


Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said P62.35 billion under the 2016 budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development has been allocated for the program for the poorest of the poor. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The budget for the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program has barely changed in the last three years of the Aquino administration.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said P62.35 billion under the 2016 budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has been allocated for the program for the poorest of the poor.

A total of P62.6 billion was allocated for the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) in 2014 and P62.32 billion this year. This was even though the number of beneficiaries increased from 800,000 to 4.4 million families.

The 2011 budget for CCT was P29.2 billion, P39.4 billion in 2012 and P44.3 billion in 2013.

The CCT budget during the incumbency of former President and now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was P10 billion in 2010, P5 billion in 2009 and P299 million in 2008.

Aquino approved during a Cabinet meeting on Monday the proposed P3-trillion national budget for 2016. The proposal will be submitted to Congress on July 28, a day after the President delivers his fifth and last state of the nation address.

READ MORE...

The 2016 budget is anchored on the principles of spending within its means, investing in the right priorities, delivering measurable results and empowering citizens through fiscal transparency, accountability and participation.

Access to education

Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II said the Aquino administration would continue to implement the 4Ps program to give children of families living below the poverty line access to education.

Roxas facilitated an open forum on 4Ps with the Parents-Teachers Association in Baliwag, Bulacan yesterday.

He explained to the parents the importance of basic education for their children, which could be made possible through the 4Ps.

“Education is a vital ingredient of the country’s economic success, thus it must be accessible for everyone, especially to families living below the poverty line,” said Roxas.

Under the 4Ps program, the DSWD provides cash grants to beneficiaries consisting of P6,000 a year, or P500 per month, to households for health and nutrition expenses and P3,000 per school year or P300 a month for each child’s educational expenses. A maximum of three children per household is allowed.

A household with three qualified children receives a subsidy of P1,400 a month during the school year or P15,000 a year as long as they comply with the conditions set by the program.

More than 300,000 high school students have so far benefited from the program. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe


IBON FOUNDATION

Aquino's PPP legacy <em>By Arnold Padilla</em>

IBON Features | 2015 July | Pres. Aquino has paved the way for more and bigger privatization deals—he made this possible through perks and guarantees unprecedented in the history of privatization in the Philippines

IBON Features—Five State of the Nation Addresses (SONAs) ago, President Aquino declared public-private partnership (PPP) as the key to many of the country’s needs.

Ten PPP awarded projects worth Php168.9 billion later and one SONA left to give, how did Aquino’s centerpiece program fare.

Aquino has been often criticized for the slow progress of his flagship infrastructure program. There are 15 more PPP projects under various stages of bidding with an indicative cost of Php549.4 billion. Measured against this, Aquino has only awarded 40% of the total number of projects identified. They are equivalent to less than a quarter of the overall indicative cost.

Before he steps down, Aquino aims to award five more PPP items. The largest is the Php122.8-billion Laguna Lakeshore Expressway Dike. Like others in the PPP portfolio, the bid schedule for this mega-project has been moved by several months. As such, doubts persist on meeting the target of 15 awarded PPP projects.

But the number of contracts Aquino has sealed will not define his PPP legacy. His biggest contribution is the kind of PPP environment that his regime has began to build. Aquino made a three-decade old neoliberal scheme even more desirable to the local oligarchs and their foreign backers. He has paved the way for more and bigger privatization deals for his successor. Twenty-seven more projects in various stages of pre-bidding preparations are in the pipeline of the PPP Center.

READ MORE...

The country, in fact, is recognized globally for its PPP program. UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) recently named the Philippines as the “most improved country in Asia Pacific for PPP readiness”. Aquino’s reforms led to distinctions as “most-improved regulatory and institutional frameworks” and “improved investment climate and financial facilities”. Aquino made this possible through perks and guarantees unprecedented in the history of privatization in the Philippines.

Creating the most favorable climate for private investors has been one of the earliest and top concerns of Aquino. Less than a year into his term, economic managers started conducting consultations with business groups and foreign aid agencies on revising the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the BOT Law.

Approved in October 2012, the revised IRR introduced new provisions that make the PPP program more palatable to private business. Chief of them are explicit provisions guaranteeing that PPP proponents will be able to collect the contractually agreed fees or charges that they can impose on the public, regardless of regulatory intervention that may affect (i.e. lower) such fees or charges.

This is contained both in the context of granting final approval of grant of the franchise by the regulator and of regulatory determination of tolls, fees, rentals and charges that the proponent can charge to the public. Such government guarantee is absent in the old 2006 IRR.

Back in November 2010 at the international PPP Summit that government organized, Aquino referred to this as “regulatory risk guarantee”. Before 200 foreign businessmen, Aquino said, “When government commits to allow investors to earn their return from user fees, it is important that that commitment be reliable and enforceable. And if private investors are impeded from collecting contractually agreed fees – by regulators, courts, or the legislature – then our government will use its own resources to ensure that they are kept whole.”

An example is the so-called Deficit Payment scheme in the Concession Agreement (CA) Aquino signed with the consortium of Ayala and Pangilinan for the Php64.9-billion LRT Line 1 Cavite Extension and Operation & Maintenance project. The LRT 1 Deficit Payment scheme states that government will shoulder the disparity between the Notional Fare, which the Ayala-Pangilinan group is entitled to impose under the CA, and the Approved Fare that the Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) may grant.

Aquino likewise issued Executive Order (EO) No. 78 in July 2012 that mandates the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in all PPP contracts. ADR provides for alternative avenues outside of court to settle disputes or conflicts, which may arise during the contract lifetime of a PPP project. ADR includes conciliation and negotiation, mediation and arbitration. ADR makes for a more inviting climate for investors. Costs are shared and investors have a say in the final decision. The process is also less tedious since watchful and assertive public interest groups are shut out unlike in regular judicial courts or public hearings.

The arbitration mechanism in the CA of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) with the Ayala and Pangilinan-led concessionaires is a form of ADR. Under it, investors and regulators sit down in a panel to settle dispute away from any form of public scrutiny, much less participation. The LRT 1 PPP contract also contains a provision on ADR.

The worst of Aquino’s PPP reforms, however, are yet to come. As a “continuing legacy for the people”, Aquino seeks to pass the PPP Act that will amend the 26-year old BOT Law. Lobbying for the PPP Act are the Joint Foreign Chambers in the Philippines (JFC) and the Makati Business Club (MBC). The bill has already been approved by the House committee on public works and highways. It is currently pending at the appropriations panel which will discuss the bill’s funding provisions.

When passed, the PPP Act will consolidate, institutionalize and expand the already outrageously investor-friendly reforms Aquino has initiated. Aside from institutionalizing EO 78 on the ADR, for instance, the PPP Act will also substantially further weaken the courts and regulatory bodies by directly restricting their mandate.

The PPP Act will disallow courts from issuing temporary restraining orders (TROs), preliminary injunctions and preliminary mandatory injunctions against practically all PPP-related acts. Court officials who will violate this would be expelled from the judiciary and face criminal and civil liabilities. While the Supreme Court (SC) can still issue a TRO, etc. against a PPP project, such order will only be effective for a maximum of six months.

Aside from weakening established judicial and regulatory processes that the public can resort to for protection, the PPP Act will also guarantee that public funds are available to protect the commercial interests of investors. It will ensure, for instance, that funds are accessible to finance government obligations arising from regulatory risk guarantees like LRT 1’s Deficit Payment Scheme through a Viability Gap Funding (VGF).

Moreover, the PPP Act will also institutionalize a Contingent Liabilities Fund (CLF) to be funded by foreign debt and local resources. Permanently appropriated, the CLF will ensure a steady source of public funds to meet government’s financial obligations arising from PPP contracts. Such obligations include performance undertaking where government guarantees payments for debts incurred by the private investor. One of the PPP projects that enjoy performance undertaking is the Php69.3-billion MRT 7 of presidential uncle Danding Cojuangco.

Remember the Ramos sweetheart deals with independent power producers (IPPs) that until today bleed the National Power Corporation (Napocor) dry? Those are also examples of PPP-related contingent liabilities. In 2011, the public debt arising from such liabilities still stood at US$16.73 billion despite a staggering debt servicing of US$18 billion since 2001.

Like his predecessors, Aquino justifies PPP because of limited public funds. But his proposed PPP Act will even further worsen government’s fiscal woes. Aside from the VGF and CLF, the PPP Act will likewise allow government to shoulder more than 50% of a project’s cost, lifting the cap under the current BOT Law. Perks like exemptions from local and real property taxes will be institutionalized as well for the big-ticket projects of the oligarchs like power plants, toll roads and mass transport.

Aquino has actually already given these generous perks to the Ayala-Pangilinan consortium in the LRT 1 PPP deal. Of the total project cost of Php64.9 billion, Aquino agreed to shoulder Php34.9 billion or 54% of the total. Government share includes expenses for right of way acquisition, purchase of additional coaches, civil works and construction of depots. The Ayala-Pangilinan group also enjoys real property tax exemptions reportedly costing Php64 billion.

Through his PPP program, Aquino has successfully built a legacy of completely surrendering public interest and the people’s sovereignty to profit-driven corporate agenda. His term will be remembered for making the Sy, Pangilinan, Cojuangco, Ayala business groups and the foreign interests behind them more powerful and richer than ever. Meanwhile, commuters are forced to endure trains that break down every week and greatly risk their safety even as fares jumped big time. Consumers are forced to bear rising water rates amid questionable charges. Households are forced to cope with steep electricity bills, manipulated charges, and insecure power supply. IBON Features


PHILSTAR By Rey Gamboa

Big strides by Senate’s big man BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 9, 2015 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


By Rey Gamboa

Despite all the seemingly divisive political issues that percolated during the past 24 months, the Big Man of the Senate managed to put in a lot of work to keep true to the goals that were set when he accepted the mantle of leadership of the 16th Congress’ Upper House.

With a determination that inspires, Senate President Franklin Drilon has plodded month after month to achieve what his leadership had declared to do: improve the economic landscape to spur investments and set off massive job creation and strengthen the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

By harnessing the idealism of a predominantly young Senate, keeping an open mind during countless deliberations, and maintaining constructive relationships with co-lawmakers in both the Upper and Lower Houses and the Executive branch, Drilon managed some pretty big strides in moving forward.

Giving life to languishing bills

In particular, during the second session of the current Congress, Drilon said a number of reform bills, which had for decades languished in the legislative mill, were finally passed.

READ MORE...

First on the list was the Philippine Competition Act which hopes to strengthen the country’s anti-trust law in light of the ongoing the Asean integration initiatives. The law, which is yet to be signed by the President, will impose stiff penalties on monopolistic activities as well as unfair trade practices.

The second is the amended Cabotage Law that will allow foreign vessels to transship goods coming from other countries through the inter-island ports and even go directly to any port in the country. This is also expected to hasten the improvement of more port facilities to take in bigger ships.

Third off is the Tax Incentive Management and Transparency Act, which is more a transparency measure that will enable the government to better gauge the benefits of the various tax incentives given to business by imposing better monitoring procedures.

The Senate was also able to pass the law that will create the Department of Information, Communications and Technology that will focus solely on information technology. This will look into why the Philippines has one the slowest Internet speeds in spite of the high cost. It will also serve the robust business processing industry, and hopefully, even make it stronger.

Other meaningful laws

Another law, already signed by the President, increases the tax exemption level on bonuses to P82,000 from P32,000. Philhealth coverage has also been extended to senior citizens without the need to pay any premiums.

In addition, signed into law last December is the Iskolar ng Bayan Act, which orders all state colleges and universities to automatically accept and provide scholarship grants to high school students who graduate in the top 10 listing.

The Senate also passed a law increasing the Sandiganbayan divisions from the current five to seven to speed up the resolution of filed anti-graft cases. The prescriptive period has also been lengthened from 15 to 20 years.

Amendments to the Probation Law were also passed by the Senate which corrected certain technical inequities in the existing version. Currently, those convicted with a penalty of not more than six years may appeal their case, but lose unjustly their right to probation rehabilitation.

Before election fever sets in Senator Drilon hopes that in the few remaining months of the 16th Congress before the muck of electioneering takes over the attention of most lawmakers, a few more important economic bills will be given attention for the President to approve.

Amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer Law have been approved by the Committee on Public Works and Highways and referred to the appropriations panel for its funding provision.

The proposed Rationalization of Fiscal Incentives is undergoing refinement as well as the proposed law that seeks to broaden protection of consumers through the amendment of the Consumer Act.

There are also proposed amendments to the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act and the Rationalization of the Mining Revenue. Both are awaiting approval at the committee level.

Other bills that need attention are those that should facilitate the acquisition of right of way privileges for government infrastructure projects, tighten the existing Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and promote micro-enterprise development in the country.

Other soon-to-pass measures that have a bearing on the economy within the scope of public administration are the proposed Land Administration Reform law, the regulation of water utilities, and the National Food Authority Reform Act.

Also awaiting final committee approval are the Barangay Officials Welfare and Incentives Act, Amendments to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Charter, and the Sangguniang Kabataan reform bill.

Power cost and land productivity

In an attempt to bring down the cost of electricity in the country, which is a major disincentive to the entry of foreign investments, amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act have been initiated.

To spur land productivity, the legislature is still deliberating on the National Land Use Policy, which among others attempts to define what constitutes forestlands while providing guidelines in determining specific limits of forestlands.

Amendments to the country’s Fisheries Code are also in the works. This will give focus on issues related to climate-change adaptation.

Aiming for inclusive growth

These proposed and signed economic laws, as well as others that are still going through the legislative rounds, will hopefully help in bringing inclusive growth for a nation that had been under the yoke of poverty these past decades.

The 16th Congress is now readying for the opening of its third and last session, and time is moving at breakneck speed. Faced with the uncertainties that always come with a presidential election, let’s hope the accomplishments so far by our lawmakers will be enough to hold steady the current growth trajectory path.

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INQUIRER

Phl Stock Exchange index slips to 7,300 level on China rout SHARES: 57 VIEW COMMENTS By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla @inquirerdotnet INQUIRER.net 04:24 PM July 8th, 2015

THE LOCAL stock barometer slid to the 7,300 levels on Wednesday as the stock market meltdown in China soured risk appetite across the region.

The Philippine Stock Exchange lost 79.22 points or 1.06 percent to close at 7,363.43, marking the fourth straight session in the doldrums.

Across the region, stock markets were in the red as the selldown in China started to make regional markets, already worried over the Greek debt crisis, more jittery.

Investment bank Merrill Lynch BofA said this market crash signified loss of faith on the Chinese government’s ability to manage asset prices and warned that the damage could spread far beyond the stock market. It said the value of renminbi, debt and property in China may be re-priced lower as a result of this.

It warned that this could be a trigger for a financial crisis in China.

Wilson Sy, director at Philequity Management Inc., said the rout in China was a concern for local markets, especially as this was happening in tandem with the debt crisis in Greece. He noted that the 33 percent decline from the peak of the Chinese markets and the suspension of trading on so many Chinese companies were unprecedented.

“China is the second biggest economy and a slowdown in China which we’re seeing is going to affect global growth,” Sy said.

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At the local stock market, all counters were in the red, led by the mining/oil sub-index which fell by 2.36 percent. The financial and industrial sub-indices tumbled by over 1 percent.

Value turnover for the day amounted to P7.98 billion. There were nearly three times as many decliners (130) as there were advancers (46).

Metrobank tumbled by 4.3 percent while URC – the day’s most actively traded stock – fell by 3.53 percebt. JG Summit was down by 2.6 percent while Megaworld, PLDT, SMIC and Jollibee all declined by over 1 percent.

BDO, GTCAP, AC, Meralco and AEV also declined.

Outside of PSEi stocks, SSI (-1.13 percent) and Security bank (-0.53 percent) also slipped in heavy volume.

On the other hand, AGI, SMPH and Globe eked out modest gains.


MANILA TIMES by Yen Makabenta

The short, weird, and counterfeit life of ‘Aquinomics’
July 8, 2015 11:00 pm YEN MAKABENTA


by Yen Makabenta 

AQUINOMICS

Nobody uses the eponym now, not the cabinet secretary who brashly tried to sell it to the media and the public. Nor the business leaders and opinion writers who fell for the con and gave it life, however fleeting.

(eponym, n., the name of an object or activity which is also the name of the person who first produced the object or did the activity. From Cambridge English dictionary)

I started researching this column with full civility toward President Aquino and his administration.

I said to myself, if in my research, I discover some substance and rigor to Aquinomics, comparable say to the authenticity of Reaganomics, I would give credence to its existence, perhaps even to its claimed achievements.

Towards the close of Aquino’s first year in office in June 2011, there was a lot of talk about the President’s positive impact on the economy.

Oddly, his first economic planning secretary, Cayetano Paderanga Jr., resigned his post, before the country could feel his presence and after he had boasted that the economy could attain 8 percent GDP growth.

Finance Cesar Purisima started the buzz about Aquinomics, on the wild theory that Aquino had as much claim to his own eponym since he studied economics at the Ateneo, whereas Ronald Reagan was just a graduate of Hollywood.

Not surprisingly, the crony newspapers were receptive to using the eponym. Their columnists amplified the claims.

Inquirer briefing on Aquinomics

The earliest article on Aquinomics that I found was a column by Cielito Habito in the Inquirer, June 21, 2011. (Habito is a bona fide economist; he served as economic planning secretary in the government of president Fidel V. Ramos).
The piece was boldly titled “Aquinomics’: What difference has it made?”

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Habito reported that he had spoken in an Inquirer briefing attended by “business leaders and other movers and shakers.”


Cielito F. Habito, Ph.D. ATENEO UNIVERSITY 2012 FILE

He spoke on the state of the Philippine economy one year into the Aquino administration. He entitled his talk, “A Year Under ‘Aquinomics’,” which prompted the immediate query if there was something to “Aquinomics” beyond playing on the President’s name.

Before he could even get started, Habito was already offering a disclaimer.

“Aquinomics” cannot be likened to, say, “Reaganomics” of the 1980s, which was defined by a distinct economic philosophy known at the time as “supply side economics.”

This had challenged traditional demand-side or “Keynesian” economics, which until then was the mainstream thinking in macroeconomics.”

He then retreated to what he considered as descriptive features of Aquinomics:

First, It is “the economics of business confidence,” which has been the driver of the economy under Aquino’s leadership so far. There has been a huge growth in private sector domestic investments, since Aquino’s takeover. But this investment growth was marred by a significant drop in foreign direct investments (FDI) and a deep decline of 37.3 % in government public investment.

He then let the cat out of the bag. “At face value, the drop in government spending appears to be a downside to the Aquino government’s performance.”

Second, Habito contended that Aquinomics might also stand for “the economics of fiscal responsibility.”

In the end, Habito, like St. Peter, wound up denying his subject. No one was moved or shaken by his rationalization of the government’s policy of underspending.

Deploying less, accomplishing more

My second research discovery was a column by Ana Marie Pamintuan, editor of the Star, published on July 22, 2011. It was simply titled, “Aquinomics.”

At the start of the Aquino administration in 2010, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and his team visited the Star to explain the financial goals and strategies of the Aquino government.

In July 2011, just before Aquino was to deliver his first state of the nation address (SONA), Purisima and his team visited again to discuss what has been achieved and what’s in store. This time, “Aquinomics” had become the buzz word of Aquino’s economic management team.


PURISIMA

Purisima explained: “Aquinomics has four pillars.

One is fiscal sustainability and macroeconomic stability. In this the country is on track, with reserves at historic highs and borrowing costs down, a balance of payments surplus, moderate inflation, and deficit targets within range.

“The second pillar is the private-public partnership or PPP program. This has stalled a bit, with seven instead of 10 projects scheduled for bidding within the year.

The third pillar is ease in doing business, for both local and foreign investors.

“The fourth pillar is investment in people – giving Filipinos health care, education and the skills necessary to become “productive participants in the economy.”

Corruption led to wastage in the past, Purisima said. “Now, even if we’re deploying less, we’re accomplishing more.”

Putting two and two together, this is the thinking that led to the creation of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) by President Aquino and Budget Secretary Butch Abad.

To deploy less, they impounded budgets already appropriated by Congress; they transferred funds from one agency and government branch to another – acts which the Supreme Court ruled were illegal and unconstitutional.

Aquinomics is no economics

My third research find was a column by Rigoberto Tiglao in the Inquirer, published on September 5, 2011. This was before he left the paper and joined the Manila Times.

Tiglao’s piece, entitled “Aquinomics: no economics,” blew away my other research discoveries.

He bluntly declared: “Awe-struck writers read profundity in President Aquino’s actions to even call these as making up “Aquinomics.” Assuming that the term refers to something, it would be “no economics.”

The heart of his argument went like this:

“President Aquino has a penchant for eschewing economic thinking. After a year in power, we may be seeing the upper-class version of the masa’s Erap Estrada.

“The Aquino government’s underspending, which most economists blame for the disappointing GDP growth rate in the first half of the year, had nothing to do with economic policy.

Government underspending this year was due to Aquino’s frame of mind, embraced by his officials, that it is the rule rather than the exception that all government contracts made during the last administration were tainted with corruption.”

What passes for a flagship project in “Aquinomics” is its conditional cash-transfer program, which is mainly a dole for the poor.

It’s the economy, student

My final research find was a devastating essay by former president Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo, Aquino’s predecessor. She is a real, albeit ailing, economist; and she knows how governments and economies work.



The essay was pointedly titled, “It’s the economy, student.” Aquino was her economics student at the Ateneo.

She wrote the piece from October to December 2011, while she was in house recuperation and hospital detention. The heart of the piece is a critique of Aquino’s management of the economy.

“In the last year and a half, I have noted with sadness the increasing vacuum of leadership, vision, energy and execution in managing our economic affairs.
The gains achieved by previous administrations — mine included — are being squandered in an obsessive pursuit of political warfare meant to blacken the past and conceal the dark corners of the present dispensation. Rather than building on our nation’s achievements, this regime has extolled itself as the sole harbinger of all that is good. And the Filipino people are paying for this obsession–in slumping growth, under-achieving government, escalating crime and conflict, and the excesses of a presidential clique that enjoys fancy cars and gun culture…”

Arroyo’s critique resonated throughout the country. Aquinomics went into seclusion.

It’s not surprising why Aquinomics disappeared from public life soon after the Arroyo essay was released. Just as nobody can really say whether Aquino is an economist, no one knows whether Aquinomics is a coherent set of serious policies, Purisima, its biggest proponent, is an accountant, not an economist.

As with all Aquino initiatives, only the slogan remains of Aquinomics.

Aquino and Purisima still mouth now and then the tagline “Good governance is good economics.”

But they will absolutely not take questions about Aquinomics.
yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

5 Responses to The short, weird, and counterfeit life of ‘Aquinomics’
Leodegardo Pruna says:
July 9, 2015 at 7:42 am
Aquinomics is really no economics. Aqui means here, if not mistaken, no is no, and mics is parallel to sound. Thus, aquinomics is no economics here. Purisima is definitely out of touch of ecoomics, he is good in profit manipulation. All the rest of Aquino cabinet do not deserve their positions because they are simply ducks of P-Noy and no advisers at all. God bless the Philippines.
Reply
goryu says:
July 9, 2015 at 6:18 am
Mula sa umpisa ng panununungkulan ni ABNOY bilang kongerista hanggang magin senador wala ni isa mang batas ang kanyang naipasa.Ano ang maasahan na makagagawa ng matino ang adik sa sigarilyo ang taong yan.Dahil mahilig sa baril marami ang napatay sa mga magsasakang nagrally sa kanilang hacienda,Si NOYTARD ang namamahala sa secutity ng haciendfa ng panahong iyon.
Reply
goryu says:
July 9, 2015 at 6:06 am
Daldal lang ang alam ni ABNOY at puro noynoying,paghihiganti,katamaaran,manisi nng manisi,magpabaya at manigarilyo.
Reply
Guadalupe says:
July 9, 2015 at 2:02 am
I remember this saying which I consider as apropos to Aquinomics and the man from whom it is named. It goes like this “Too much knowledge is dangerous, because too much is too little.”
Aquino is no economist. He was just a mediocre C student (of Economics) from the Ateneo. This doesn’t qualify him to formulate policies that will dominate the economic scene of the Philippines. The economic soundness which he found in the country when he succeeded Pres. Arroyo (albeit, illegitimately) were all accomplishments of the Arroyo administration. Arroyo was the Economics professor of the Abnoy at the Ateneo. The former was not at all impressed by the latter.
Based on a study of the economic policies of world leaders, it can be seen that they tailored their economic policies to the needs of their country at the time of their ascension. France’s Hollande won the presidential election by his promised policy of added and increased government spending. So more economic activities were engendered, more jobs became available and the standard of living in France was raised notches higher.
Here in our country, the Eunuch fulfilled the prophesy about him. That he will plunge the country to a never ending series of disaster. It’s about time, he disappears from view.
Reply
Felimon A. Soria says:
July 9, 2015 at 12:41 am
I always thought that the administration of Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo was one of the most prosperous years of our country despite accusations against her husband.
Reply


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