By Czeriza Valencia, February 12, 2020; The Philippine Star

Manila, Philippines — The House committee on economic affairs yesterday approved the bill that will turn the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) into a Cabinet-level department with greater powers over socioeconomic planning activities and increased resources.

The bill, also known as the “Economics and Development Planning Act of 2020,” authored by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, will turn NEDA into the Department of Economics and Development Planning (DEDP), which will serve as the country’s primary agency for socioeconomic planning and investment programming.

NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said as such, NEDA will ensure that all sectoral plans are aligned with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP).

These may include export development plan among others that will be directly reviewed and harmonized by DEDP with the PDP.

“It’s to make sure that all sectoral plans are aligned with the PDP. At the start, we will already be providing the guidelines and standards and then once their plans are done, there will be a review by us,” Edillon told reporters yesterday.

This system also seeks to strengthen the linkages between national and subnational plans.

“I think what is more important that will be changed is the capacity building to cover even the local government units,” said Edillon.

After approval by the economic affairs committee, the bill will be tackled by the appropriations committee to thresh out the implications on the national budget.

Edillon said the bill should have no difficulty passing the scrutiny in the Senate.

“The Senate, they actually want this. They’re receptive,” said Edillon.

Transforming NEDA into a full Cabinet-level department entails the expansion of its regional operations to include more local planners.

The DEDP will be under the Office of the Secretary of Economics and Development Planning which will be assisted by the Economics and Development Planning Council (EDPC) which is the equivalent of the current NEDA Board.

Like the NEDA Board, the EDPC will be chaired by the president with the Secretary of Economics and Vice Chair. It will include the principals of the agencies chairing the committees of the council, as well as the chairperson of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, and the central bank governor.

Agencies that will be attached to the DEDP, meanwhile, will remain the same.