Economists were disappointed with President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, saying there was no specific plan or action to resolve the prevailing economic problems.
“As expected, he trumpeted DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) and its benefits,” Nicholas Antonio Mapa, associate economist of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) said.
Mapa also noted that the President was not able to highlight how he intends to solve the power current power crisis and the weak infrastructure spending.
In his speech, President Aquino only called for increased coordination between the Department of Energy, Joint Congressional Power Commission and Energy Regulatory Commission and did not mention a specific plan on solving the looming power crisis.
In terms of infrastructure development, the President noted that through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), about 12,184 kilometers were built, including farm-to-market roads.
“I was particularly disappointed in their decision to announce an additional importation of rice as this is no solution to the problems that beset the agriculture sector,” Mapa added, referring to the 500,000 metric tons of rice that will be imported through open bidding this month announced by the President.
Meanwhile, another economist at the BPI said President Aquino’s SONA could spark speculations that that it will be his last address to the nation.
“I think the President is open to the idea that, because of impeachment complaints filed against him, his latest SONA could be his last. There would be some speculations, especially people may interpret his statements that he was about to give up,” BPI lead economist Emilio Neri Jr. said.
Neri added that the implications of President Aquino’s SONA can also affect the economic reforms his administration had initialized during the past years.
“The effect [of his SONA]could be that reforms could be impeded, like rationalization of fiscal incentives, we really need that, freedom of information, PPP [private partner partnership]projects, na nauumpisahan pa lang [that was just getting started], could be affected,” he said.
On the contrary, Justino Calaycay, analyst at the Accord Capital Equities Corp. believes that the latest SONA was a clear picture of the state of the economy and of the nation.
“Indeed we have come far from where we started, but even so, even the president recognizes that more needs to be done,” he said.
For his part, Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad said there is a lot the government still needs to accomplish over the next two years.
“While we’ve had to grapple with some very serious challenges in the last year, none of these setbacks have discouraged us. We are determined to work harder and with greater resolve for the remainder of President Aquino’s term, so that the government can truly serve the public and its interests,” Abad said in a statement.