Sunday, March 04, 2007

Macapagal-Arroyo's new program is actually '0 in 08,' – Beltran

Sunday March 4, 2007

Macapagal-Arroyo's new program is actually '0 in 08,' – Beltran

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee today said that Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is merely recycling her old economic blueprint and formula and calling it '8 by '08.' In her agenda, Arroyo cited job creation, cost of living improvement, a strong peso, increasing investments, pro-poor education, health care/housing/ending hunger, a green Philippines and a strong antiterror campaign.

"New name, same old policies that will not result in any genuine improvement in the lives of ordinary Filipinos. Pres. Arroyo and her spin doctors have come up with admittedly catchy-sounding slogan for the government's economic program, but there's nothing new about it. These projections are being made in self-defense, against the assertions of the Genuine Opposition and other critics that the basic sectors have benefited nothing government programs. Same old promises, and given the Arroyo government's track-record of economic and fiscal failure, the results will be the same: 0 by 08," he said.

"Macapagal-Arroyo is high on projection but very poor on the follow-through. It's impossible to achieve genuine economic progress using her blueprint and formula because they completely ignore what's necessary for the Philippine's economic development: the creation of strong and independent basic industries, and genuine agrarian reform. Nowhere in her economic program is the land distribution to farmers mentioned; and the country remains highly dependent on exports," he said. "In nominal terms, the country has had a 211% increase from debt service levels in 2001. under Arroyo, the country has suffered and continues to suffer the worst ever fiscal crisis. Public debt payments are on an all-time high, and the country is in the deepest debt hole in all of its history."

Citing studies from the independent think-tank IBON Foundation, Beltran cited the failure of the government to utilize collected taxes to strengthen social services for the Filipinos and to generate secure and sustained employment.

In 2006, because of the implementation of the reformed value-added tax (RVAT), the government amassed P978.7 billion in tax and non-tax revenues, the amount going beyond the set target. , readily surpassing the target. The RVAT which raised the VAT rate from 10% to 12%, allowed the temporary hike in corporate income tax rates from 32% to 35%. VAT exemptions on oil and electricity were also removed.

"Despite the increase in tax revenues however, government implemented cut-backs on the budget allocations for social services. The provisions for social services were already measly to begin with; but instead of pumping funds into them using the collected taxes, allocations were skimmed. Real public spending on education fell to P1,331 per Filipino in the recently-approved 2007 budget. In 2002, the highest allocation for education was pegged at P1,503 in 2002. Health spending was leveled to a sickly P111.78 per Filipino," said Beltran.

Beltran said that decreasing allocations for the very same services that Macapagal-Arroyo is citing for improvement in "8 for 08" has been the norm under her administration. "Pres. Arroyo claims to prioritize education, but Department of Education records point out the lack of 20,517 teachers (assuming a ratio of 45 students to one teacher), 45,775 classrooms (assuming 45 students to a classroom), 3.2 million seats and 67 million textbooks during the previous school year 2006-07," he said.

The activist lawmaker also said that Filipinos are also ill-equipped to deal with the high costs of health services. "The Arroyo government has also reduced total health expenditures Records show that the national and local government's share in total health expenditure was 40.6% in 2000. By 2004 the figure dropped to 30.3%.

"The continued privatization of health and education services will forever keep them out of the reach and access of ordinary Filipinos," he said.

Finally, Beltran said that taxes still went into payments to creditors as well as to assure foreign investors. " Only last year, P854.4 billion went to total public debt service. This means that every Filipino was forced to shoulder P9,935 each in contribution to the payments. The amount for total public dept payments is seven times combined spending on education and health," he said. #


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