DETAINED Sen. Leila de Lima has pushed for the establishment of a debt management system to save the Philippines from “debt trap.”
She recently filed Senate Bill (SB) 1675 establishing a Comprehensive Debt Management System that would ensure transparency and accountability on all government borrowings.
De Lima said Congress should exercise its oversight powers to “scrutinize all foreign and domestic borrowings negotiated, contracted, or guaranteed by President [Rodrigo] Duterte.”
The Duterte administration plans to roll out more than P8 trillion in public infrastructure projects from 2018 to 2022 funded mostly by foreign loans and overseas development assistance (ODA).
“It behooves us to remember that it is unlikely that any administration goes into a borrowing spree with the intent to fall into a debt trap,” de Lima said.
“Therefore, assurances aside, there remains a need to institute reforms and safeguard to avoid a recurrence of the Marcos era ‘death trap,’” she added.
De Lima also raised the need to form a Congressional Oversight Committee on Debt Management to ascertain if the President’s borrowings “are done for the best interest of the country and its people.”
It is also part of the mandate of the committee to review all existing laws, and implementing rules and regulations and executive issuances relating to foreign and domestic borrowings, she said.
“The committee is empowered to require all government agencies concerned, including the Office of the President, to submit all pertinent information and data on foreign and domestic borrowings; provided, however, that information or data that are privileged shall be furnished the committee only in executive session,” according to de Lima.
Under SB 1675, also to be known as the Comprehensive Government Debt Management Reform Act, the State is mandated to “holistically manage all government borrowings through a unified government debt management policy.”