Senate Bill No. 2120 / Committee Report No. 525
AN ACT INSTITUTIONALIZING THE NATIONAL ECONOMIC AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY AS THE INDEPENDENT ECONOMIC AND PLANNING AGENCY OF THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT, DEFINING ITS FUNCTIONS AND REPEALING EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 230 SERIES OF 1987, AS AMENDED, APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
Session Hall, Senate of the Philippines
Delivered by HON. WIN GATCHALIAN, Senator of the Republic:
Mr. President, honorable colleagues in the Senate, good afternoon.
One of the keys to success in any endeavor is planning ahead. Even the most spectacular and innovative vision would be difficult to bring to life without a well thought out plan to back its implementation. This applies to our personal lives, to our individual professional careers, and to our collective work as the government of the people.
Unfortunately, Mr. President, this culture of planning seems to be sorely lacking in the culture of governance in the Philippines. Nandiyan na ang iyong problema, saka lang tayo naghahanap ng solusyon. An example of this is the flagship Build, Build, Build infrastructure program. Many of the problems it seeks to solve, such as worsening traffic, poor public transportation, and air traffic congestion in Metro Manila, could have been addressed much sooner – or altogether avoided – had previous administrations planned ahead to meet these easily foreseeable issues. Indeed, one of the major issues often faced in long-term planning is the changing policies and priorities of the political administrations that succeed one another after every six years.
Learning from the mistakes of the past, and with great optimism that a real change in the culture of governance can be made, this legislation seeks to strengthen the government’s foremost planning agency – the National Economic and Development Authority. Established in 1973 and reorganized in 1987 by Executive Order No. 230, the NEDA has been driven by its mission of formulating continuing coordinated and fully integrated socioeconomic policies, plans and programs to enable and empower every Filipino to enjoy a matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay.However, during the public hearing held by the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs to discuss this measure, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia noted that “For the past 45 years, the National Economic and Development Authority has been consistent and faithful in performing its mandate as the country’s premiere socioeconomic planning and policy coordinating body. However, the current setup of NEDA has not empowered the agency to reach its true potential as an economic manager and development leader. Even with its high competency and quality outputs, NEDA’s powers as an oversight body remains limited in coordinating plans and recommending policies.” Because of this limited function of NEDA as a mere planning agency without adequate oversight authority, many worthy and well-meaning reform initiatives of the government have been unable to achieve their aim of genuine change for the benefit of the people, largely due to what the good secretary characterized as fragmented, uncoordinated, and often interrupted planning, policymaking, programming, and budgetary process.
With this in mind, Mr. President, I am proud to sponsor Senate Bill No. 2120, otherwise known as “the National Economic and Development Authority of 2018.” This landmark legislation seeks to institutionalize NEDA as a new and truly independent economic and planning agency that will be the lead integrator and implementor of forward-looking, continuing, integrated, and coordinated economic and development programs and policies for national, regional, and local development. This independent economic and planning agency will consist of two distinct but functionally-related entities, namely the NEDA Board, which is chaired by the President of the Philippines and will include representatives from pertinent cabinet departments and technical agencies, and the NEDA, headed by the NEDA Secretary and assisted by Assistant Secretaries, Undersecretaries, technical, sectoral and operations support staffs and regional offices.
This legislation puts NEDA at the forefront of providing a coordinated policy direction for the government through the implementation of a Long-Term National, Regional, and Local Development plans to ensure consistency of government initiatives across political administrations and integration of major regional and local development priorities into the medium term development plans.
Being the lead integrator, NEDA is envisioned to lead the synchronization of the government’s planning process with programming and budgeting. Sa ngayon, ang nakaayon na oras sa paggawa ng sectoral plans ng iba’t ibang ahensya ng gobyerno ay magkakaiba at hindi tugma sa isa’t isa. Kaya naman sapamamagitan ng batas na ito, magkakaroon na ng “Planning Call” ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno na katulad nang budget call ng DBM upang masigurado ang naaayon, at napapanahong pakikipag-ugnayan sa pagpaplano at pagbubudget. Ang proseso ng pagpaplano ay kailangang iayon sa investment programming timetable at sa budget calendar para ang mga identified strategic programs and projects sa medium term development plan ay may nakalaang nararapat at kinakailangang pondo.
In addition, this measure will strengthen the linkages between various sectoral plans and programs with the Philippine Development Plan and the targets and outcomes of these programs by giving NEDA the mandate to formulate sectoral and spatial plans and programs. It also mandates NEDA to formulate a National Physical Framework to ensure the smart use of the country’s land and physical resources.
Mr. President, aside from putting a premium on planning in the processes of government agencies throughout succeeding administrations, we also want to inculcate a sense of ownership in these government agencies over these development plans. We noticed that even though our long-term and medium-term development plans are well-written, implementing these plans and turning them into concrete programs is challenging for our government agencies, especially if the implementors are not directly involved or engaged in the preparation of these plans. We must remember that these development plans are actually roadmaps to lead the country in the direction we want to take it – a map to the solutions of our socio-economic problems. Right now, we are not harnessing the full potential of these plans, and most of the time, these plans are only being cited in various activities of the government and are not actually being used to the fullest since the implementing agencies are not directly involved or engaged in the preparation of these plans.
With this legislation, we will be reinforcing active participatory planning by strengthening NEDA’s oversight function and mandating it to formulate, in consultation with other public agencies, civil society organizations, NGOs, the academe, the private sector, and LGUs, the country’s economic and development policies so that the national, regional and local policies, plans and programs are consistent and aligned with each other and the country’s resources will be efficiently and sustainably used. Also, to promote good governance, transparency, accountability and evidence-based decision-making, this measure has likewise incorporated a national evaluation policy framework to lay down an independent monitoring and feedback mechanism on the performance and effectiveness of government programs and projects in the development plans.
Mr. President, this legislation has long been overdue since the current NEDA has been created by virtue of Executive Order No. 230 dated July 22, 1987, with then President Aquino exercising legislative powers before Congress resumed. In fact, Article XII, Section 9 of the Constitution contemplates the creation of an independent and planning agency headed by the President. However, until now, an enabling law to fully exercise the functions of an independent economic and planning agency has never been passed by Congress.
Mr. President, I am confident that this legislation provides a solid plan to achieve its ultimate vision – to instill a culture of active participatory planning in the formulation and implementation of the country’s economic and development policies – by empowering NEDA with oversight functions to direct the implementation of government policies and programs to achieve the country’s goals and objectives. Therefore, with great gratitude to Secretary Pernia and the NEDA family, namely Usec. Edillon and Usec. Tungpalan for their hands-on involvement in the formulation of this measure, I respectfully urge this august chamber to support its swift passage.
Thank you, Mr. President, maraming salamat po.