By Gillian M. Cortez, August 28 2018; Business World


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A BILL that will increase the independence of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has been endorsed by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who claims that the measure will bring the agency’s powers in line with those envisioned under the 1987 Constitution

Senate Bill 1938 “seeks to institutionalize a new and truly independent department that will implement long-term, continuing, integrated, and coordinated programs and policies for national development,” the Senator said in the bill’s introduction.

“It’s a hybrid institution that is different from direct line agencies but it’s also not (at par) with constitutional bodies,” said Mr. Gatchalian in a senate hearing on Tuesday.

Section 9 of Article XVII on the National Economy and Patrimony of the 1987 Constitution states “The Congress may establish an independent economic and planning agency headed by the President, which shall, after consultations with the appropriate public agencies, various private sectors, and local government units, recommend to Congress, and implement continuing integrated and coordinated programs and policies for national development.”

It added, “Until the Congress provides otherwise, the National Economic and Development Authority shall function as the independent planning agency of the government.”

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said of the bill: “The current set-up is no longer adequate for NEDA to be able to fully exercise its oversight function. With various reform initiatives that are often myopic rather than holistic, the government’s planning, policy-making, programming, and budgeting process has become fragmented, uncoordinated, and often interrupted. Implementation of plans, programs, and policies has many times been delayed and inefficient.”

NEDA Undersecretary Rolando G. Tungpalan said the bill will not only help the agency play a role “in medium term development plans but also in long term development plans.”

The bill also calls for additional interagency committees to assist NEDA. The NEDA board currently has seven committees which are the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), Infrastructure Committee (InfraCom), Investment Coordination Committee (ICC), Social Development Committee (SDC), Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (CTRM), the Regional Development Committee (RDCom) and the National Land Use Committee (NLUC).

Under the proposed NEDA act, additional committees include the Economic Development Committee (EDC), the Science, Technology and Innovation Committee (STIC), the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee (ESDC), and the Governance Committee (GC).

NEDA OIC Assistant Secretary Roweena M. Dalusong said that she expects the agency’s budget and staffing to increase alongside the expanded functions.

“It’s necessary that the manpower complement should be increased so that it will be able to respond to the constituents and we’re sure we’ll able to address the sectoral and geographic concerns,” she said.

“If you’re going to add all the costs of the one-step increment of all the positions, our projections shows we will need as much as an estimated personnel resources requirement of P940,012,631,” she said. — Gillian M. Cortez