Press Release
September 9, 2009


Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday called on the Arroyo government to make public the status of its P300-billion economic stimulus package to check whether the program successfully addressed the adverse effects of the global economic crisis.

"The public should know whether the government's much-touted stimulus plan has adequately addressed the negative impact of the global economic crisis. A regime of budget deficits, supposedly in the name of economic recovery, should be a cause for concern," Escudero said.

"More importantly, the Arroyo administration needs to show transparency in its implementation of its P300-billion stimulus spending plan. The manner by which this huge amount of taxpayers' money is spent should be made public," he said.

"While the global economic crisis necessitates a strong response from the government, the crisis should not be made an excuse for excessive spending which, in turn, could be a source of graft and corruption," Escudero added.

The 39-year old senator had earlier called for closer scrutiny and oversight of the government's P300-billion stimulus plan. He also reiterated his call for the government to improve its revenue collections.

He said the Philippine economy drew strength from sectors like business process outsourcing and tourism while remittances from overseas Filipinos also showed resiliency.

"If we go by Malacanang's own pronouncements, the country's economic situation may not be as bad as originally projected. If that is the case, then there should be no more need to prolong the 'economic emergency plan' any further and a gradual exit program should be immediately undertaken," Escudero said.

He said no less than the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the worst of the economic global turmoil was over.

"The government should now explain to the public how its stimulus plan was implemented and where the money actually went. There should be full disclosure," he added.

Escudero noted that the government's stimulus plan was originally intended to address job generation and social protection programs. Congress had earlier proposed measures to exempt from taxes certain sectors like senior citizens, calamity victims and public utilities.

"Now, the Department of Finance is singing a different tune, opposing these measures because these would supposedly erode government revenues. If the stimulus plan leaves out these sectors - among the intended beneficiaries of the plan - then what has this administration been pump-priming all this time? I believe a proper accounting is in order," the senator said.

Escudero has batted for calibrated stimulus spending in infrastructure towards key sectors like services and agriculture. He also said spending should be focused on sectors that are poised to pick up and recover quickly such as tourism and business process outsourcing.

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