BAYAN Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Sunday hit out at President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic managers for allegedly continuing the US-inspired neo-liberal policies of the Aquino administration.”
He said National Economic Development Authority Director General Ernesto Pernia and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had been blocking the proposed 2,000-peso increase in the pension of retired Social Security System members and the moratorium on land use conversion of agricultural land, but were pushing for an increase on excise taxes on oil products and other mainly pro-business measures.
“Those are the same neo-liberal policies of the Aquino administration. It is very alarming that these are being perpetuated by the Duterte administration,” Zarate said.
“This mainly pro-elite and oligarchic economics runs counter and anathema to the previous pro-poor and pro-people pronouncements of President Duterte.”
Zarate asked if Pernia and Diokno were sabotaging the President.
“The only thing that these policies will sustain is the status quo of inequality in the Philippines,” Zarate said.
“As it is now, what these neo-liberal economic managers prescribe will only help dissipate the huge political capital of Duterte and eventually isolate him from the people.”
Zarate said Pernia and Diokno had not looked into the highly anomalous sovereign guarantees extended by the government to foreign companies under the public-private partnership program.
Neda allowed the Philippine Statistics Authority to sign a P1.59-billion contract with the US-based company Unisys in September 2016 to computerize the civil registry system despite Unisys’ violations in phase 1 of the same project, and it was the only participant in the bid, Zarate said.
Pernia, Diokno and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez II claim that without an accompanying SSS premium increase, the proposed pension increase would unduly jack up the unfunded liabilities of the SSS to P5.9 trillion from P3.5 trillion.
But Zarate slammed the Finance department over its statement that all policy recommendations were anchored on sustaining high growth so that all sectors across all regions would benefit from more jobs, higher incomes and better living standards.
He said the 2,000-peso increase in the pension of SSS members was practical, and that the SSS must improve its collection efficiency to finance it.
He said there was a need to reduce the bonuses and perks of the SSS’ board members and to collect the more than P200-million retirement package given to board members in 2009.