PRESIDENT Arroyo has approved a 10-percent increase in her administration’s economic stimulus package to create 3 million jobs and to finance an infrastructure buildup this year, bringing the fund total to P330 billion.
National Anti-Poverty Commission chairman Domingo Panganiban said the Cabinet had adopted the proposal of the National Economic and Development Authority to add P30 billion to the package, which is designed to bolster the economy against the impact of the global financial crisis.
Panganiban said the Cabinet had also increased the original target of generating one million jobs within the first six months to 1.5 million, or a total target of three million jobs for the year.
“At least P3 billion from the additional funding will be used to finance our Comprehensive Livelihood Emergency Employment Program,” Panganiban said after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.
“This will result in a big dent in the poverty incidence in the country. There are about 12 million unemployed Filipinos, and 3 million translates into 25 percent of that figure.”
The additional funding will come from the savings of various government agencies and from contributions of government-owned and -controlled corporations
Malacañang earlier appealed to Congress to pass the P1.4-trillion budget so that the stimulus package could be rolled out.
But bicameral efforts to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the budget remained deadlocked over the economic stimulus package.
House Speaker Prospero Nograles and other congressmen criticized former Senate President Manuel Villar for suggesting that the economic stimulus package was tied to Charter change.
“That’s without basis,” Nograles said of Villar’s claim that the funds could be used as a come-on to congressmen to support Charter change.
“As a senator, he has enough staff and power to look into how the funds would be spent. We need the stimulus [package] more than criticism or speculations about it.”
President Arroyo said the domestic job-creation program would also benefit Filipino workers overseas who lose their jobs abroad, but assured the public that the situation was not critical.
“So far, overseas employment remains stable and strong. We are doing what we can to address the needs of those who have been displaced, but by no means has this become a crisis,” the President said during yesterday’s vin d’ honneur at the Palace.
Mrs. Arroyo said she was “cautiously optimistic” on the country’s economic performance this year.
“We are not being complacent. An economic resiliency plan is in the offing to pump-prime the economy,” she told members of the diplomatic corps who attended the annual event.
“The plan aims to upgrade infrastructure, expand social protection, and ensure sustainable growth in the midst of the global economic crisis.”
The bulk of the stimulus package comes from the 16-percent increase in the 2009 budget, which translates into P160 billion, and a private-public partnership of P100 billion to finance infrastructure programs.
Also included in the package were fiscal incentives amounting to P40 billion for the corporate and personal tax reductions, which would translate into more individual and company spending, Neda chief Ralph Recto said.
The stimulus package will also cover a P10-billion dole to 640,000 poor families nationwide, double the number of beneficiaries last year.
Panganiban earlier announced that the new jobs would come from the following sectors:
• Construction of village pharmacies and road maintenance works for Region 1
• Construction of flatbed dryers, irrigation projects and agroforestry projects for Region 2
• Production of organic fertilizers and vegetable planting programs for the Cordillera Autonomous Region
• Herbal soap livelihood, utility services for public schools, and livestock production for Region 3
• Out-of-school youth employment programs, hollow block making, flood control employment and microfinance for the Luzon Urban Beltway
• Aid to street sweepers, microfinance for families of jeepney drivers, and the setting up of more Tindahan Natin branches in Metro Manila
• Training for masseuses, mango puree activities, and drainage cleaning programs for Region 4-A
• Hollow block production and out-of-school youth employment program for Region 4-B
• Irrigation projects, repair of hospitals and the hiring of more street sweepers for Region 5
• Clean and green programs, construction of village pharmacies, and dock jobs for the Philippine Ports Authority for Region 6
• Swine livelihood, Bantay Dagat program and organization of a Balicasag marine sanctuary for Region 7
• Construction of roads and flatbed dryers and employment of Bantay Dagat and Bantay Gubat employees for Region 8
• Livestock production, coconut-corn intercropping, repair of health facilities, and agroforestry for Region 9
• Irrigation repair and production of organic fertilizer for Region 10
• Agribusiness, irrigation projects and livelihood programsfor fishermen in Region 11
• Kalayaan village construction projects, roadside maintenance, and marine management resource project for Region 12
• Agroforestry and construction of village pharmacies for Region 13
• Microfinance for beneficiaries of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, roadside maintenance and fisherfolk livelihood programs for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. –Joyce Pangco Pañares with Roy Pelovello and Christine F. Herrera, Manila Standard Today