Friday, November 05, 2004

NR1103:Beltran questions merger of support agencies

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release November 3 , 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Celphone number 09213907362

Solon supports investigation into Malacanang's plans to merge profiting
livelihood fund agency with losing government corporation; questions
Malacanang's motivations

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today called for investigations onto
Malacanang's plans to merge the National Livelihood Support Fund (NLSF) and the
People's Credit and Finance Corp (PCFC). Employees of the NLSF are opposed to
the move, saying that putting their agency under the supervision of the PCFC
will mean the depletion of the NLSF funds. According to the employees, NLSF
funds are in danger of being utilized to pay off the PCFC's foreign debts, and
the merger could very well possibly result in the lay-off of NLSF employees. The
NLSF is said to h very liquid assets, earning more than a hundred million pesos
per annum.

According to reports, the NLSF's function of engaging in microfinance lending
operations has now been stopped; this at the expense of agrarian reform
beneficiaries, overseas Filipino workers, coconut farmers and youth
organizations. The merger will also result in the dissolution of the PCFC's
debts to the NLSF amounting to P1.05 billion.

"Why the merger and why now? It's highly illogical and very suspicious that an
agency's that losing money should be put in charge of another agency that's
making a profit and proving itself financially viable," Beltran pointed
out."Even from a strictly business view, the merger does not make sense.
Malacanang's approval for such a merger between these agencies exposes
questionable motives. The employees of the NLSF have reason to be suspicious
and to raise an alarm. At the least, the NLSF's function of providing funds for
projects for impoverished and marginalized sectors should be protected, subject
to possible review and assessment. But to put the NLSF's finances under the
rationalization program and of another government corporation that's been
slowly going belly-up is very questionable and should be investigated," he

"It would be very interesting to hear directly from Malacanang its reasons for
authorizing the merger. This could well be yet another plot of Malacanang to
centralize all available government funds under its roof and direct supervision,
to dispose of at whim and wish," he said. He also said that assertions from
defenders the merger that the there will be no commingling of funds between the
agencies were doubtful. "Mergers are usually motivated by financial
considerations," he said

Beltran said that the employees' allegation that the involvement of the NAPC in
the formulation of the merger IRR was politically motivated should also be
investigated. According to the employees, the new NAPC chair Imelda Nicolas is
close to Malacanang and has the president's ear.

"It's evident that President Arroyo is trying to build up her image as a friend
of the urban poor, and she is focusing on building homes for the urban poor.
This would have been a good idea, except for the glaring fact that her housing
program is one that's beyond the reach of the urban poor and low-income
families. This is where the Napc comes in, and soon enough, no doubt it will be
discovered that the other agencies of government dealing with urban poor housing
and welfare are involved in these anomalous merger plans," he said.

"There's no doubt that this is the first step towards definite privatization.
There is an ongoing trend in the national government to privatize all its
financial institutions with income-generating function. This is one of
prescriptions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB)
to supposedly help the government generate finances that, in turn, will be used
to pay off foreign debt and other accountabilities," he said.

According to reports, the implementing rules and regulations are being drafted
by the Landbank of the Philippines and the National Anti-Poverty Commission
(NAPC), and are said to be biased against the interest of the NLSF. The veteran
labor leader said that the merger or at least the transfer of the NLSF's
financial operations to the PCFC was very similar to a previous move
implemented by the national government to transfer the Overseas Workers Welfare
Administration's (OWWA) Medicare funds to Philhealth. The move was questioned
by migrants organizations; they said that the fund transfer was illegal and
detrimental to the welfare of OFWs and their families, while benefiting Pres.
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's then burgeoning campaign for a second term of office.


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