PGMA says gov't to lose P3 billion a year from suspension of NBN, cyber education deals
Manila (25 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo called today her suspension of the $329-million National Broadband Network (NBN) and cyber education deals with Chinese firms as a waste of opportunity and a setback to her 10-point legacy agenda to provide computers for every classroom in the country.
In a statement read before she convened the Joint Pro-Performance Steering Committee and Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) Transparency Board meeting in Malacañang this afternoon, the President said the government stands to lose P3 billion a year from the suspension of the projects.
"The suspension of said projects has created a gap in these aspects of our ten-point agenda. Government telecom savings of P3 billion a year from broadband may not be forthcoming, slashing that much from funds for social services. And world-class ICT (information and communications technology) might no longer reach 4th to 6th class municipalities and the least endowed schools," the President said.
The President, however, maintained that the suspension of said deals is not a precedent which "every disgruntled project proponent and his backers" may use to their advantage.
"Even as we defer the two China projects, this should not be construed as a precedent for every disgruntled project proponent and his backers to undermine undertakings that comply with the law and benefit the nation," she explained.
In an attempt to soften the effects of the lost income from the deals, the President has tasked Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza "to discuss with private telecom companies how government can cut its phone, fax and online expenses so we can spend more on programs and projects."
The President underscored the importance of trading with China which she called the "fastest growing country in the world" whose rise is a significant opportunity for the Philippines.
"Our overall relations with China have become more confident, mature and comprehensive, punctuated with substantial and important projects aimed at deepening exchanges in a number of areas, including trade and official development assistance," the President said.
"China is currently our third largest trading partner with whom we have had a substantial trade surplus since 2002," she added.
"Our Framework Agreement on Expanding and Deepening Bilateral Economic and Trade Cooperation is expected to further enhance bilateral merchandise trade with China," the President said.
To ensure that trade relations with China remain intact, President Arroyo has created the China Projects Oversight Panel to oversee the implementation of official development assistance (ODA) programs from China.
The panel, she said, will be headed by (Trade) Secretary Peter Favila as overall coordinator of the Framework Agreement with China with Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya as Chairman of the Government Procurement Policy Board, Presidential Management Staff chief Cerge Remonde as Chairman of the Pro-Performance Group, a Church leader who shall be invited, and a representative of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) as members.
The President assured the Filipino people that despite this drawback, "the state remains committed to making long-overdue investments in our country and our people." (OPS/PIA) [top]