THE government will pursue a new policy for public spending and putting an end to insurgency according to Fi-nance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said.
Instead of wasting resources fighting insurgencies the government will offer targeted subsides to poor families to help them out of poverty and thereby making them less vulnerable to the influence of rebels and criminal elements, he told a recent weekly breakfast forum.
As poverty is at the root of many problems, the government will focus on social protection programs and human capital development along with massive infrastructure building.
Abject poverty, he said, has denied people the opportunity to build better lives, which, in turn, has created breeding grounds for insurgents and criminal elements.
Discussing the income disparity across the country, Dominguez pointed out that in places like the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARRM) the gross national income of individuals is only 6 percent of what Metro Manila resident are getting.
Citing Department of Finance data, Dominguez said the per-capita gross regional domestic product (GRDP) for
2015 in the National Capital Region (NCR) was P398,985 at current prices. It was the country’s highest. Other regions like Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon region), reported per-capita GRDP of P145,859 and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), P131,110, both for 2015
In contrast, GRDP of ARMM is only P26,757, the country’s lowest at current prices.
“That’s why we have conflict there, because they have no other opportunity for better agriculture; they have no other opportunity,” he said.
“So what do they do? Because they don’t have it, they don’t have better education, they go into rebellion and the people in Manila have to spend a tremendous amount of time and money to suppress those rebellions,” Dominguez pointed out.
“That is a crazy way of doing things,” he note d and added, “We might as well invest a lot of money there [ARMM] to improve their livelihood because, first of all, we owe it to them.”
“It is fair and . . . it cost us less in the long run,” he said.
The tax reform package that the government’s economic team has presented to Congress aims to raise sufficient revenue for programs meant to bridge the chronic income gap between Metro Manila and the other regions, according to DOF spokesperson Paola Alvarez. The aim, she said, is to cut the poverty rate by 1.5 percent per year and bring it down from the current 26 percent to 17 percent by 2022, the final year of President Duterte’s six-year term.
“The government will do more to help the regions that are lagging behind in terms of development. We need to reinvigorate the economy in areas outside NCR by increasing spending on badly-needed infrastructure and social protection programs outside the Greater Manila area,” Alvarez said.
Under spending, which in the past has hampered the implementation of social protection programs for the poor, she stressed, would be a “thing of the past.”
This administration, she said, would make the right investments to raise the skills of our labor force, create jobs, stimulate the economy and improve the quality of life of the poorest of the poor.”