The government plans to spend 60 percent to 80 percent of its P1.415-trillion budget for the year during the first semester as part of plans to pump-prime the economy, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director-general Ralph Recto said.
He said this planned frontloading and spending in the first half of the year is expected to boost private sector confidence in the economy.
In the first semester of 2008, the government, which accounts for 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), spent only 30 percent of its budget in the first semester.
The NEDA chief said that with the frontloading of the budget, the government would be able to spend for fast, off-the-shelf infrastructure which have simple engineering requirements and no right-of-way problems.
“We are encouraging the government financial institutions (GFIs), government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to participate in these infrastructure projects,” Recto said.
Another plan is to improve revenue collection through better tax administration to boost revenues, he added.
For the exports sector, Recto said that the government has implemented various programs to diversify, innovate and upgrade their products.
He added that “so far, we have provided tax relief for the private sector by reducing corporate income tax from 35 percent to 30 percent and exempting minimum wage earners from personal income tax and increasing in personal exemption of non-minimum wage earners,” Recto said.
Recto, likewise, said that the government is proposing to increase the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) allocation for conditional cash transfers or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program.
About P5 billion will also be added to cover the additional 321,000 poor households giving them a maximum cash grant of PhP9,000 per year, he added.
Recto also explained the strategies of the plan include putting in place programs to assist the vulnerable domestic workers and OFWs.
“The programs for OFWs abroad and those returning include redeployment to emerging foreign labor markets, development of new market niches, as well as repatriation assistance, when needed,” he said, adding that enhanced reintegration services and livelihood assistance are also made available for returning OFWs.
Moreover, the government also created a “payback package” for OFWs who were retrenched due to the global financial crisis. This package includes the setting up of a P250-million support fund, skills training to avail of in-demand jobs in other parts of the world and setting up of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) desks in the provinces to match OFWs’ skills with available jobs, among others. –Iris C. Gonzales, Philippine Star