Press Release
October 2, 2006

Transcript of interview with Sen. Franklin M. Drilon

Q: On the national debt

SFMD: Ang utang po ng buong bansa ay mahigit sa P5.5 trilyon. For the 84 million Filipinos, that means, each and every Filipino, pati po ang apo, ay may utang sa ngayon na mahigit sa P64,000 per Filipino. Ang hinihiling ko po sa gobyerno ay let us minimize our deficit. We have a deficit of P63 billion for 2007. We will again borrow P63 billion in order to fund this deficit because our collection will be short by about P63 billion. While it is reduced substantially, still, P63 billion will add to our national debt of P5.5 trillion and will add to the burden of our countrymen. I would strongly suggest that we have a better tax collection. Right now, our tax collection effort is only about 16.67 % of GDP. In 1997, we reached 19.44% of GDP. By just adding 1% in our tax collection effort, we would be able to balance our budget. Therefore, we no longer need to borrow another P63 billion. To me, it's either we increase our collection effort or reduce our expenses, particularly the non-productive items in the budget, like the confidential and intelligence funds, which amounts to about P1.2 billion of the budget. If we just tighten a little bit and increase our collection effort, we should be able to balance our budget faster. Therefore prevent an additional burden to our countrymen. Uulitin ko po, sa ngayon, mahigit sa P5.5 trilyon ang utang ng sambayanan. Sa bawat Filipino, ito po ay umaabot ng P64,000. Ang hinihiling ko po sana ay mas maayos ang ating tax collection effort. Halimbawa, sa value added tax, and nakukulekta lamang ay 16 %. Dapat ito ay taasan natin para sa ganoon, hindi na natin kailangang manghiram ulit at lalong pabigatin ang pinapasan ng taong-bayan dito sa ating utang.

Q: Does that mean reduce spending on infrastructure?

SFMD: No, we should not reduce our infrastructure spending. Because we are already falling behind in infrastructure spending compared to other Asean countries. What I am saying is we reduce our unproductive expenses like intelligence and confidential funds, which is already P1.2 billion in our budget. There are agencies, which do not really need confidential and intelligence funds and yet, they have inserted this in their budget. We intend to examine this closely and drastically cut the intelligence funds.

Q: Hindi daw P17 billion ang unliquidated cash advance, P16.3 billion lang daw?

SFMD: Given the magnitude, what's the difference?

Q: On the damage of Milenyo

SFMD: Secretary Neri's statement is that the typhoon damage, preliminarily, may not affect our projection growth. It is not that significant to affect our projection growth. On the Milienyo damage, mayroon pong sapat na salapi sa loob ng budget, lalo na po doon sa supplemental budget. Mayroon kaming P300 milyon na itinabi sa supplemental budget para sa Bicol. Although for Mayon evacuation, pwede po itong gamitin para sa mga napinsalang kababayan natin sa Bicol, lalo na sa Sorsogon na napinsala ng bagyong Milenyo. Mayroon pong sapat na pondo sa budget natin, lalo na sa supplemental budget. The President can realign and we recommend that the President realign the P300 million for Mayon evacuees to the Milenyo storm victims.

Q: Can you identify the agencies na hindi na kailangang maglagay ng intelligence funds?

SFMD: Nire-review ko ang lahat ng mga ahensya na mayroong confidential and intelligence expenses. We will come up with a list. We will recommend reduction or total limitation on certain areas.

Q: Iyung P300 million, kapag ni-realign hindi na dadaan ng Congress?

SFMD: Hindi na. Because that is also under the Calamity Fund. Although, specifically for Mayon evacuees, it can be realigned for the victims of Milenyo. (end)

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