Senator Win Gatchalian has expressed confidence that the Senate would be ready to act on priority legislation which will complement the economic agenda outlined by President Rodrigo Duterte during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“It is encouraging that the President devoted more attention to economic issues during this year’s SONA. I am confident that the Senate will respond to this fact by focusing on legislation concerning these issues,” said Gatchalian, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, as he promised to work hand-in-hand with the administration in this regard.
For one, Gatchalian said he would support legislation aimed at eradicating red tape and trimming the fat in the government bureaucracy. “Red tape slows down the delivery of basic social services to the public, and it discourages both domestic business development and foreign direct investment. It’s time to cut red tape for good,” he said.
The senator also vowed to work with the administration to ensure that it meets the ambitious target of increasing infrastructure spending from 5 percent to 7 percent of GDP by 2022, underscoring the vital role of this substantial investment in infrastructure to the government’s push to meet its goals under the Ambisyon Natin 2040 socio-economic plan.
On transportation, Gatchalian signaled his approval of the proposed revamp of the air transportation sector, explaining that “improving the efficiency and reliability of this much-maligned Philippine sector will do wonders for the Philippine tourism industry, while at the same time benefiting international businesses reliant on aerial trade routes,” he said.
However, Gatchalian urged the President to come up with more concrete short-term solutions to address the worsening gridlock in Metro Manila and other urban areas in the Philippines, noting that clearing of obstructions on roads would not do the job on its own.
On procurement, Gatchalian said he is open to the President’s suggestion of reforming the Procurement Law. However, the senator said any gains made in the efficiency and quality of procurement should not come at the expense of fiscal transparency and public accountability.
Finally, regarding tax reform – the most controversial economic measure mentioned by the President in his speech – Gatchalian maintained that the Senate would conduct fair, thorough, and independent deliberations before making any commitments.
“I want to rely dissect and analyze the tax reform bill to ensure that its provisions are really as pro-poor as its proponents say it is. Making the wrong decision on this bill could serve a crippling blow to impoverished households already struggling to make ends meet,” said Gatchalian.