Opposition lawmaker Rep. Imee Marcos of Ilocos Norte wants President Arroyo’s economic managers to give a clear picture of the country’s financial situation to as not to confuse investors and the people.
Marcos issued the challenge as she scored President Arroyo’s declaration that the country is emerging from the financial crunch about 10 weeks after the warning was first issued and without citing specific basis for the “good news.”
“Skyrocketing oil prices are rapidly gobbling up our dollar reserves, we have a back-breaking P5.9-trillion debt with an additional P538 billion coming in before the year ends, and half of all Filipino households are barely eating three square meals a day. No more financial crisis? Who are we kidding here?” Marcos said.
She said she will move that Mrs. Arroyo’s economic managers be summoned to Congress to explain the President’s pronouncements with the figures and statistics.
Individuals to be summoned include the heads of the Departments of Budget, Finance, Trade and Industry, and Labor, and the National Economic Development Authority.
Marcos acknowledged it was hard to fathom how the country could be emerging from a crisis when Congress has yet to pass the new tax measures that the Palace said would be the country’s “life jacket.”
She further noted that the revenue collection performance of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Bureau of Customs has yet to improve.
Meantime, Speaker Jose de Venecia said the House of Representatives is “willing to move to the center and meet the Senate” for the purpose of maximizing the revenue to be raised from so-called sin products.
De Venecia said that the House leadership is only waiting for the final profile of the Senate version of the measure before calling a meeting of House leaders and members of the House Committee on Ways and Means.
He underscored that the House’s approval of the measure, after a 10-hour marathon session on October 28, was part of a legislative initiative to hammer out a final version of the revenue measure, which is part of a package reform of the Arroyo administration to deal with the country’s huge budget deficit.
“National interest dictates that we pursue a flexible strategy that will maximize the revenue yield from this revenue measure,” de Venecia said.
Maricel V. Cruz