Austerity measures

April 27, 2020

WITHOUT doubt, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) needs to impose highly-effective “austerity measures” to raise much-needed money to fight the dreaded corona virus.

However, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was quick to argue that in imposing the measures, the DBM should not touch the Duterte administration’s multi-pronged infrastructure program.

Various quarters, including the ordinary citizens in the countryside, agreed with the view of Cayetano, a former senator, that infrastructure drives economic activity in far-flung communities.

Let’s not forget that millions of Filipinos, mostly jobless, laborers, farmers and fishermen, are in the grip of de-energizing poverty because of the shortage of industrial activities in the provinces.

To address the problem, Cayetano called for a dialogue between DBM officials and Congress leaders to identify projects, programs and activities that would be affected by the cost-cutting measures.

The highly-articulate House leader also asked the DBM not to touch the allocations intended for agriculture, health and tourism.

It is understandable, he said, why budget department officials are very careful in the use of the people’s hard-earned money, citing the number of former government officials facing graft charges.

Today, however, Cayetano said there’s complete transparency in government transactions and that the people now understand how public funds are being spent.

Earlier, the DBM issued a circular withholding the release of 35 percent of programmed appropriations for this year and imposing a 10-percent mandatory savings on non-essential expenditures.

Indeed, the DBM and other concerned agencies deserve the support of the public as they exert their best efforts to look for ways to fund programs and projects aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19.

And they are on the right path in coming up with highly-effective austerity measures without touching the allocations for agriculture, health and other vital sectors.