Press Release
September 18, 2008


Government should immediately translate into deeds the steps the economic managers had spelled out in strengthening Philippines defenses from the fallout generated by the collapse of US financial giants.

"Powerpoint assurances should be translated into real programs, "Senate President Manny Villar said today.

He cited, for example, the government plan to spend more for infrastructure, which, he said, "is a right prescription because public construction has always been a job provider and a growth trigger ."

"But have red tape and procurement issues been addressed? Has the lag time between fund release and groundbreaking and completion for projects been shortened?" "What will be done to help exporters? What trade diplomacy is being pursued to find new markets? Is there a menu of aid manufacturers can select from and ask from the government, for example?" he said.

Villar said the programs rattled off by the President and her Finance, Trade, Energy, Agriculture, Budget and Economic Planning secretaries in yesterday's economic briefing "were rendered in broad strokes."

Villar noticed that programs aired yesterday in the said forum "were the original intention of the government even before the US crisis struck. The question is: What are the new initiatives crafted specifically for the crisis?"

In the first semester of this year, for instance, despite the government's pronouncements to pump prime the economy to counter the contractionary effect of higher inflation and weak external demand, government spending even registered a negative 1.9% growth ( from 10.8% in the same period last year).

In the latest (2009) survey of the World Bank on Doing Business, the Philippines' ranking slipped four notches from 136 to 140 out of 180 countries, reflecting the increased difficulty of investing here in the country.

Despite his call for "details," Villar, however, praised the economic managers for their "measured response" to Wall Street developments.

"On the point that they did not hyperventilate, that was a commendable thing. Otherwise panic is a very contagious thing, he said.

He said the resilience of the Philippine economy and Filipino workers would enable the country to ride out the storm.

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