Press Release
November 18, 2006

Finance committee pushes for holding of
population census next year

Senator Franklin Drilon, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, today said his committee has convinced the countrys economic managers of the necessity of holding a population census next year.

Drilon, upon scrutiny of the proposed budget for 2007 of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), noticed that the allocation for the conduct of the Mid-decade census of population, can no longer be found.

In the proposed 2006 budget, NEDA has allocated P1.3 billion for this purpose, Drilon noted.

During the committee deliberation on the P1.825 billion budget of NEDA this week, National Statistics Office (NSO) Administrator Carmelita Ericta informed the committee that the last population census was held in 2000. The senators present have agreed that the countrys demography and economic standing have largely changed since then, thus the necessity to hold one next year.

Statistical data is very essential in the functioning of government. It is only right that we invest in this activity, Drilon said.

Sen. Edgardo Angara said he suspects that planning especially for the education, is bloated but cannot be contradicted in the absence of current figures. Sen. Rodolfo Biazon for his part, said statistical data is needed to craft legislation that will address the countrys economic problems.

Ericta said P180 million as an initial cost for the publicity and the bidding process expenses is needed immediately in order to start the activity. She added that the conduct of census will need a funding of P1.5 billion.

In the discussion where the funding for the census will be sourced, Drilon suggested to look into the savings in the P46.9 billion supplemental budget for 2006, which NEDA Director-General Romulo Neri, Department of Finance Secretary Gary Teves and Department of Budget and Management Secretary Rolando Andaya, found viable.

There is enough elbowroom if you can declare savings in the calamity fund under the supplemental budget, where we budgeted P2 billion, Drilon said.

Drilon noted that savings should be realized in the P1.75 billion allocation for the Guimaras Oil Spill fund as reimbursement from insurance funds will be made. He also added that the P50 million Lebanon Workers Repatriation Fund in the supplemental budget was not entirely used.

We thought that there is enough leeway in our programmed deficit given the favorable interest rates and the exchange rate. There should be some available cash to cover this activity, Drilon said.

The suggestion made by the chairman is feasible, Andaya said as he added that his department is undergoing now an agency performance review of all the departments in the objective of generating funds to finance the conduct of the census.

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