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‘Inclusive 2022 budget needed for PH recovery’

The COVID pandemic and its continuing effects underscore the need to have a national budget that is participatory, consultative, development-oriented and inclusive, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Monday.

Lacson, addressing the “Budget Serye 2021” of Social Watch Philippines, said the budget is the most important tool to address social, economic and political problems, which are magnified by the pandemic.

“The national budget is the government’s most important tool in achieving its goals, especially in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis when all our social, economic and political problems have magnified into massive scale,” he said.

“More than ever, we must demand for a national budget that is participatory, consultative, development-oriented, and inclusive – one that equalizes opportunities for all and serves the will of our people,” he added.

Lacson reiterated his shared commitment with SWP and its Alternative Budget Initiative to promote citizens’ active participation in crafting the national budget.

Lacson has earned a reputation as the watchdog of the national budget, flagging and pushing for the removal of dubious and useless appropriations, including pork barrel, from the yearly budget bill.

In August, he resigned as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and as Chairman of the panel’s Subcommittee C so he can focus on scrutinizing the P5.024-trillion budget for 2022, as well as to address the advent of red flags raised by the Commission on Audit in its audit reports of several agencies.

Lacson has pushed for budget reform by crafting bills such as the Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE), which ensures resources for local development projects by downloading funds to the local government units.

Meanwhile, Lacson said there should be “less government intervention” in the mass immunization program against COVID-19 for the country’s economic recovery.

He noted that while the private sector has volunteered and local government units have offered to buy their own vaccines, it appeared that the national government was putting in place unnecessary restrictions.

“One solution is less government intervention, particularly how we treat the private and business sectors. Let’s not overregulate because that could undermine economic recovery,” he said.

Lacson, who is running for President under Partido Reporma, said he would craft a lockdown exit strategy in consultation with health experts.

“We are studying this, and in coordination with health experts, we will take steps to stop these lockdowns because we do not know whenthe pandemic will end,” he said.

Topics: COVID-19 pandemic , 2022 national budget , Senator Panfilo Lacson , Social Watch Philippines
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