MANILA, December 23, 2005
 (STAR) By Aurea Calica - President Arroyo said yesterday pump-priming the economy with the P35 billion in government savings will directly benefit ordinary Filipinos, who must be bailed out "from poverty and hunger" through good governance and political will.

In a statement, the President said Filipinos have been battered by high prices and job shortages and "we must now carry the fruit of tough reforms to their doorstep."

"We are resolved to bail out the nation from poverty and hunger on the back of a tough economic agenda and a penetrating social agenda — through good governance and political will," she said.

Mrs. Arroyo said phase one of her administration’s economic reforms has generated growth and confidence in the country.

She said phase two of the reforms is to "transform our gains into stronger and more tangible social benefits under an overall umbrella of fiscal stability."

"These savings will be pumped into jobs, food, health and education support as we expand our infrastructure to drive investments and tourism," the President said.

On Wednesday, Mrs. Arroyo announced the availability of a P35-billion "multi-agency fund" from government savings that would be used to "pump prime" the economy in the coming months.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the budget and planning departments reported during Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting that there was some "slack" amounting to P35 billion in the budget deficit for 2006 and it was agreed that this should be spent on food, health, education, infrastructure and housing.

Ermita said concerned departments were told to immediately submit their programs for the first quarter of 2006 that would harness the money.

He said the P35 billion was generated because the government was able to control its spending and its target deficit had been lowered from P180 billion to P150 billion.

Dennis Arroyo, National Economic and Development Authority director for national planning and policy, also said the outlook for 2006 was stronger because of the strong economic drivers such as the $10.3-billion overseas Filipino workers’ remittances this year, actual investments in factories and plants that were up by 68.8 percent, net portfolio investments that were five times higher compared to last year, real estate at a 30-year high of 13.4 percent, and call center jobs rising by 60 percent.

Government revenues from various sources also increased. Tourism revenues were up by 13.5 percent, finance was up by 15.6 percent, telecommunications by 14.7 percent, and trade by 7.6 percent.

GMA names former DA chief as adviser on jobs creation The Philippine Star 12/23/2005

He’s back. President Arroyo has appointed former agriculture secretary Arthur Yap as her new adviser for job creation, Malacañang announced yesterday.

Yap’s new position puts him back in the President’s Cabinet with the rank of secretary.

Yap, a former student of Mrs. Arroyo, was one of the first Cabinet members to resign out of delicadeza (sense of decency) after tax evasion charges were filed against his family.

In a statement, the Palace said the President signed Yap’s appointment paper on Dec. 16 and this was released yesterday.

The President signed on Dec. 5 Executive Order 475 creating the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Job Creation (OPJAC), defining this OPJAC’s mandate, powers and functions.

The Palace said the President felt the need to create an office that would be responsible for coordinating, monitoring and evaluating the government’s programs for job creation, support for entrepreneurs, agribusiness land development and making food plentiful at reasonable prices with other government, non-government and private sector entities.

The OPJAC will consolidate the job generation and food security programs implemented by various government agencies for greater focus to ensure that the intended beneficiaries receive the benefits of these programs.

As agriculture secretary, Yap led efforts to fulfill the President’s commitment to develop two million hectares of agribusiness lands by 2010.

He also developed programs to increase food production and market access to farmers, as well as open up urban markets directly to food producers in an effort to lower food prices.

Under Yap’s stewardship, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the private sector began selling pre-packaged vegetables in half kilos under the "May Gulay" brand for P25 per pack. — Aurea Calica

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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