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Gatchalian champions culture of planning through proposed NEDA Charter

PASAY CITY, Philippines – Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia (2nd from R) and other agency officials appear at the Senate committee hearing, 28 Aug 2018, that seeks to institutionalize the independence of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in implementing socio-economic plans, programs and policies. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

There is a need to instill a culture of planning in the formulation and implementation of the country’s economic and development policies.

Senator Win Gatchalian made this call as he led the public hearing on Senate Bill No. 1938 or the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Act of 2018, which aims to institutionalize the country’s highest social and economic development planning and policy coordinating body.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, observed that NEDA has crafted good long-term socio-economic development plans over the past years and yet, most of the plans are only used as reference instead of being implemented.

“We have good long term plans, but it is just only being cited. How are we going to make planning a part of our culture?” he asked. “The whole point of planning is really to implement it down the road.”

With SB 1938, Gatchalian said NEDA will be able to prescribe the standards and guidelines for the preparation of Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP), Medium-Term Regional Development Plans (MTRDPs), Medium-Term Public Investment Program (MTPIP) and Regional Medium-Term Development Investment Programs (RMTDIPs).

The measure also establishes a Long-Term Development Plan which will ensure that plans and programs are continued seamlessly over the years despite changes in administration.

SB 1938 also enhances NEDA’s oversight powers in the formulation of provincial development plans through the agency’s regional offices. Gatchalian said this will align local development thrusts with the national and regional plans and programs.

“What is important is to capture the synchronization of the national and local development plans,” Gatchalian said.

“For me, it promotes the culture of planning, which in our culture is a mere compliance,” he added.

NEDA, for its part, has thrown its support behind Gatchalian’s measure, which would recognize NEDA’s independence in implementing socio-economic plans, programs, and policies.

Appearing at the hearing, Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said he shares Gatchalian’s belief of promoting participatory formulation of the country’s economic and development policies.

Pernia recognized that NEDA’s current weakness is its inability to exert its authority, saying that its powers as an oversight body remains limited to coordinating plans and recommending policies.

“Implementation of plans, programs, and policies has many times been delayed and inefficient. Even the sensible policies and programs that address root causes of problems and have long-term impact often get disrupted, discontinued or not given due attention,’’ Pernia said.