Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Friday, June 20, 2008

Doleouts legal but focus on job generation -- Gordon

JUSTICE Secretary Raul Gonzalez’ defense of the Arroyo government’s subsidy spree is adequate but this should just be temporary measure to help the poor adjust to the sudden price hike in consumer goods and services.

“We agree with Secretary Gonzalez that the government’s subsidy spending is constitutional and legal. Moreover, there is good merit in doleout spending as long as it is done to help people worst hit by the food, fuel, and power price hikes. But we must apply greater effort to providing our people with more jobs and a means to adapt to new circumstances. What is more important are long-term solutions,” said Senator Richard Gordon, who also called for the immediate implementation of drastic measures to abate increases in the inflation rate which is nearing double digits and the unemployment rate which is now at eight percent.

“We should apply the lessons learned from the Roosevelt Era in the United States and even from the father of the President herself, Diosdado Macapagal.

After helping people get through the initial shock of the economic crisis, they launched massive infrastructure spending. Right now, we could hit two birds with one stone by releasing funds for the repair of dams and irrigation as well as the building of farm to market roads and post harvest facilities. This will give our people jobs in the countryside -- where unemployment is highest -- and contribute enormously to increasing agricultural productivity, driving down the cost of food thereby helping curb inflation,” said Gordon who is pushing for an emergency employment program in irrigation and rice production.

According to a report, the Justice Secretary said the President was allowed to use government savings to provide emergency subsidies.

The savings come from increased value-added tax (VAT) collections on oil.

He cited Article VI, Section 25, paragraph 5 of the Constitution, which states: “No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations; however, the President, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and heads of Constitutional Commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the General Appropriations Law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations.”

To mitigate the impact of rising prices of food, power and fuel, the government is selling cheap rice, has launched a P2-billion power subsidy program for “lifeline” users, or P500 for those consuming 100 kilowatt hours or less a month, and distributing a maximum of P1,400 cash stipends for every poor family under the P5-billion Ahon Pamilyang Pilipino program.

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