Approval of key reform measures sought

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
Approval of key reform measures sought
Arsenio Balisacan
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is calling on Congress to approve key reform measures to help achieve the administration’s development goals.

These bills include the proposed Economy, Planning and Development Bill, the Department of Water Resources Act and the Open Access in Data Transmission Act.

“It has been one year since the launch of the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028. While we saw some of our headline indicators improve, much remains to be done. To ensure that we remain on track to meet our goals by 2028, and in anticipation of future challenges and scenarios, we must pass key legislative measures aimed at strengthening the country’s economic governance and addressing the structural weaknesses of our production sectors,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a statement yesterday.

NEDA’s statement comes as the 19th Congress resumed its second regular session last Monday.

Under the NEDA bill, the aim is to institutionalize the agency into the Department of Economic Planning and Development to strengthen the government’s ability to formulate and coordinate medium- and long-term economic and development roadmaps.

The bill is expected to enhance the coherence of national and sub-national policies, plans and programs for the optimal use of financial resources through the country’s public investment program.

“At NEDA, our plans are people-centered. The passage of the NEDA Bill will allow us to better leverage our expertise in people-centered development planning across all national and local sectors and ensure that all Filipinos feel the benefits of such exercises,” Balisacan said.

NEDA is also pushing for the approval of the bill for the creation of the Department of Water Resources, which will be the primary agency responsible for the comprehensive and integrated development and management of the country’s water resources.

With over 30 agencies with overlapping functions over the country’s water resources, there is a lack of coordination on planning efforts and inconsistent implementation of policies. This affects 12.40 million people who obtain water from unsafe sources, with some needing more water service providers.

In addition, the NEDA is urging Congress to approve the proposed Open Access in Data Transmission Act, which is among the priority legislative measures of the government.

This bill seeks to narrow the digital divide by encouraging the development of data transmission infrastructure and removing barriers to competition in data transmission services.

Under the bill, the requirement of a legislative franchise for players seeking to build their networks will be removed to make it easier to provide better services at more competitive prices.

The NEDA is also backing the passage of critical fiscal reforms and ensuring the speedy implementation of improvements to the country’s tax administration systems.

It said revenue-generating bills, including the Real Property Valuation and Assessment Reform and the Value-Added Tax on Digital Services, would strengthen the country’s fiscal position and support provision of social services and infrastructure development in the medium and long term.

The NEDA said it also supports the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises to Maximize Opportunities for Reinvigorating the Economy, which aims to improve tax administration for enterprises, encourage investments and create a business-friendly environment.

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