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PIA Press Release

NEDA official shares lessons in responding to global crisis

Davao City (22 January) -- An appropriate response, spending on the vulnerable sectors, and continuous monitoring of events are some of the key lessons the government kept in dealing with the global and financial crisis, said Deputy Director-General Rolando G. Tungpalan of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

"Our response was appropriate which is why we did not go into high spending that was beyond what was already authorized in the budget," Tungpalan said in his speech at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Regional Forum on the Impact of Global Economic and Financial Crisis on January 15 at the ADB Headquarters in Manila.

He said the Philippines referred to its immediate response to the crisis as an Economic Resiliency Plan rather than a "fiscal stimulus plan" as the national budget had already been submitted to Congress, adding that "the only way we could really move forward in making the budget more meaningful and responsive to the needs of the crisis was to tweak the budget".

Tungpalan said that the government pushed for expenditure items that focused on small, quick, ready-to-go actions and measures particularly infrastructure that would not have to go through a tedious bidding process. "these infrastructures were characterized by rehabilitation and repair, including small farm-to-market roads, irrigation ditches, and the like," he said.

The NEDA official said another feature of the ERP, apart from the quick-spending pattern was "using the budget in favor of government spending for the first semester to take into account the expected slack in private sector investment". This meant that before the start of 2009, government agencies were mobilized to commit to a delivery rate of 60 percent in the first semester and 40 percent in the second half.

In contrast, the traditional way that government agencies spend their budget, would be 30 percent in the first semester and 70 percent in the second semester.

Tungpalan said that at the same time, spending was also focused on shielding the vulnerable sectors through appropriate social protection programs including the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program and the Comprehensive Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP).

The CCT is "an expanded social compensation program", which is not s "dole-out" scheme, Tungpalan said. "Rather it is a response that provided quick incentives for school children to attend to school, and mothers and family members to attend to healthcare," he explained.

The CLEEP on the other hand was a way to ensure that government would be able to save and create jobs, Tungpalan said. "It allowed us to retool workers who have been temporarily displaced," he said, adding that "the private sector was very cooperative in absorbing workers with a flexible work arrangement.

This is a very good way that the government and the private sector had worked trying to have a common and mutually beneficial approach".

Finally but as important, Tungpalan cited the importance of continuous monitoring of global events as they impact on local development.

"It was necessary for NEDA to undertake every two weeks monitoring of global and local events, which is known as the Global Recession Impact News (GRIN) report. This helped us scan for threats and development opportunities in the environment that would impact on our own program. This allowed us to recalibrate our economic resiliency plan," he said. (NEDA XI) [top]

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