MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile on Tuesday urged the Aquino administration to accelerate budget spending in the next few months in order to spur economic activities and growth, noting that the election campaign period will start early next year.
Malacañang should increase spending because the administration has only until January 2013 to spend allocated funds since next is an election year, he said.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, government spending is banned during an election year. The ban usually starts 45 days before election and 10 days before special elections.
"The government should spend more, increase spending. Dapat gawin na nila ang mga tulay upang magkaroon ng trabaho ang taumbayan, magkakaroon ng trabaho kapag mabilis at malakas ang spending ng gobyerno (They should build the bridges now so people would have jobs. There will be more jobs if the government accelerates and increases its spending)," Enrile said in a recent interview.
"Malapit na ang eleksiyon, may ban, dapat mag-apura na ngayon (elections are near. There's a ban. We should work faster)," the Senate chief added.
Though he is satisfied with the present economic stimulus initiated by President Aquino, Enrile noted that there is still a slowdown when it comes to job creation which he acknowledged is also due to external effects since other economies are suffering.
Thus, the government should ensure that it can mitigate the impact of a possible economic slowdown by spending more to spur growth in the countryside.
"So far, he (Aquino) is facing our problems on the economy. It is like a house, which needs continuous repair. Mahusay naman ang takbo ng ekonomiya (the economic situation is good). We have a steady exchange rate, inflation, interest rates, and inflows of foreign exchange," he said.
"But there is slowdown in job creation due to the effects of the economies of other countries, some economies are getting poorer, which also slows down export. That is the situation now," Enrile said.
Enrile urged state managers to change strategy and immediately approve pending projects in their departments, particularly big projects in the government's private-public partnership (PPP) program which he believes would spur more economic growth.
"They should thoroughly study all contracts but they should decide a little more faster. You can't decide not to spend. You have to take certain risks," Enrile said, noting that the Aquino administration's tough policy against corruption is slowing down budget spending.
"If somebody commits corruption, then the government should prosecute them," he said.
The Senate chief, however, said he would adopt a wait-and-see attitude as the Aquino government proceeds with its next step in the next half of the year.
"Let's us see what they are going to do when summer comes. Kung puspusan magbuhos ng proyekto, kasi malapit na ang eleksiyon, kaya nga nahahalata ko na maraming repairs na ginagawa sa kalsada," he said