All policy recommendations of the economic managers to President Rodrigo Duterte are anchored on sustaining high and inclusive growth and not wrong and anti-poor advice on such issues as the land conversion the Social Security System (SSS) pension hike, Finance Undersecretary Secretary Paola Alvarez said on Friday.
In fact, “all policy recommendations to President Duterte by DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd and the other economic managers are anchored on sustaining high growth and enabling all sectors across all regions to benefit from it in the form of more jobs, higher incomes and better living standards,” Alvarez, the Department of Finance (DOF) spokesperson, said in an emailed statement.
Dominguez, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia and Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno have criticized the proposed two-year moratorium on land conversion as it would undermine the country’s growth momentum.
On the other hand, an increase in the monthly pension of SSS beneficiaries, minus a corresponding hike in member contributions, could force the SSS to go bankrupt.
“To rescue the SSS from possible bankruptcy, the government would have to use taxpayers’ money to keep the pension fund afloat, thus unduly diverting funds that could otherwise be used to fund the pro-poor and pro-growth programs, Alvarez said.
It would actually be anti-poor if the economic managers were to suggest to the President for all taxpayers, including wage earners and other low-income workers, to pay for the pension hike of some 2 million pensioners, Alvarez noted.
The state-run SSS is the pension fund for private sector employees.
“Our economic managers are working on the premise that the Duterte government needs more, not less, funds to finance President Duterte’s 10-point socioeconomic reform agenda for high—and inclusive—growth. To pander to short-term populist initiatives will be a disservice to the President and the overwhelming majority who have given him the electoral mandate to effect real change on his watch,” she added.
The government needed to generate a lot more funds to bankroll pro-poor and pro-growth programs to transform the Philippines into an upper middle-income economy by 2022, the DOF official said.
“The government certainly cannot do so if the president’s economic team were to support populist proposals willy-nilly just to earn political pogi points for the Duterte administration, oblivious to their disastrous impact on revenue generation for the social reform agenda on high—and inclusive—growth,” she said.