Palace, Congress agree on target bills

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MALA­CAÑANG and Congress last Mon­day agreed on 28 leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties for the term of President Ro­drigo R. Duterte that ends in mid-2022, the Na­tional Eco­nomic and De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (NEDA) said in a statement yes­ter­day.

“In its sec­ond meet­ing un­der the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion yes­ter­day, the Leg­isla­tive-Ex­ec­u­tive De­vel­op­ment Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil (LEDAC) ap­proved the Com­mon Leg­isla­tive Agenda (CLA) for the 17th Congress,” the press re­lease read.

The CLA, NEDA said, con­sists of 28 bills, 14 of which were tagged by the LEDAC Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee as ur­gent last July to em­pha­size the ne­ces­sity of hav­ing them en­acted within the year.

The 20-mem­ber LEDAC was formed un­der Repub­lic Act (RA) No. 7640 dur­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of for­mer president Fidel V. Ramos, who held its first meet­ing on May 19, 1993, a year into his term.

Aimed at im­prov­ing co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the Ex­ec­u­tive and Leg­isla­tive branches of gov­ern­ment, LEDAC was de­signed to fast-track en­act­ment of re­forms.

Cur­rently, the full coun­cil is led by Mr. Duterte and con­sists of Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Ro­bredo, Se­nate President Aquilino L. Pi­mentel III and House Speaker Pan­ta­leon D. Al­varez, among oth­ers, with NEDA serv­ing as its sec­re­tar­iat.

The same NEDA statement quoted its di­rec­tor-gen­eral, So­cioe­co­nomic Plan­ning Sec­re­tary Ernesto M. Per­nia, as not­ing that 21 of the 28 CLA mea­sures were

counted as pri­or­i­ties un­der the Philip­pine De­vel­op­ment Plan 2017-2022 (PDP).

“This de­vel­op­ment only shows that the whole of gov­ern­ment is mov­ing for­ward in the same di­rec­tion,” Mr. Per­nia said.

The PDP, ap­proved in Fe­bru­ary, spells out steps the Duterte gov­ern­ment will take in a bid to prod eco­nomic growth to a faster pace in or­der to lift more Filipinos out of poverty by the time Mr. Duterte steps down in 2022.

That will make the Philip­pines an “up­per mid­dle in­come” econ­omy in five years un­der the World Bank’s clas­si­fi­ca­tion, from its cur­rent “lower mid­dle in­come” sta­tus that puts it in the com­pany of Bangladesh, Bo­livia, Cam­bo­dia, Congo, Egypt, In­dia, In­done­sia, Kenya, Laos, Mon­go­lia, My­na­mar, Sri Lanka, Syria and Viet­nam, among oth­ers.

Specif­i­cally, the gov­ern­ment now aims to prod gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) ex­pan­sion to 7-8% an­nu­ally un­til 2022, com­pared to last year’s 6.9% — which was just be­low the top end of an of­fi­cial 6-7% target for 2016 — and a 6.2% av­er­age from 2010-2015. The first six months of 2017 saw GDP grow by an av­er­age 6.45% against eco­nomic man­agers’ 6.57.5% full-year target. By 2022, the gov­ern­ment tar­gets per capita in­come to hit $5,000 from $3,550 in 2015, un­em­ploy­ment rate to ease to 3-5% from 5.5% in 2016 and poverty in­ci­dence to go down to 13-15% from 21.6% in 2015.

Mr. Per­nia ex­plained that the CLA was de­rived from the Com­mon Leg­isla­tive Pri­or­i­ties of Congress, con­sist­ing of 39 pri­or­i­ties adopted by both cham­bers of Congress and the President’s Leg­isla­tive Agenda that con­sisted of 55 mea­sures.

Of the 28 leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties iden­ti­fied last Mon­day, Mr. Duterte signed into law last Aug. 3 RA 10931, or the Uni­ver­sal Ac­cess to Qual­ity Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Act, that pro­vides tu­ition sub­sidy to stu­dents of state uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges.

Mr. Per­nia noted that the nec­es­sary bills have been filed for all the mea­sures in both houses of Congress, and that 10 are “in ad­vanced stages of leg­is­la­tion”, namely: pro­pos­als for tax re­form, a na­tional land use act, right­siz­ing of the na­tional gov­ern­ment, a free ir­ri­ga­tion act, ease of do­ing busi­ness act, na­tional men­tal health care de­liv­ery sys­tem, oc­cu­pa­tional safety and health haz­ards act, strengthen the Ba­lik- Sci­en­tist Pro­gram of the De­part­ment of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, a Philip­pine qual­i­fi­ca­tions frame­work and amend­ments to RA 8282, or the So­cial Se­cu­rity Act of 1997.

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