State Of The Nation Pt. 2: The Plan

We will turn around this country through a financial, economic, social and cultural overhaul. We will change the way we work, the way we think and the way we behave.

We will be leaner, we will work smarter. Using technology I aim to deliver more out of less. I will be appointing a chief technology officer to start the process.

We will allocate our scarce resources more intelligently emphasizing education, health care, jobs, housing, the environment and national security. We will start a zero based, bottom up approach to budgeting.

I want a prouder Government. I want to restore Civil Service as a noble endeavor, a career new graduates will aspire to, a profession current officials can take pride in. An Executive Development Program will be established to promote professionalism in the ranks.

Financial Reform

The financial plan is to grow our tax base, cut our costs, deleverage our balance sheet and manage our debt more imaginatively.

On taxes we will balance the need for growing the economy while trimming our deficit. This will involve a more honest and aggressive approach to tax collection.

We will redesign our tax program so it is simpler, more motivated and more directed. A simpler tax formula will expedite collection and minimize discretion.

Our motivated tax strategy will involve harsher penalties for tax avoidance, stricter enforcement and moral suasion: By being more transparent on how we spend public funds we hope to persuade taxpayers to be more forthright in their payments.

We will allocate specific taxes for specific expenditures following a users’ tax. A tax on road vehicles and fuel will be directed to building roads and infrastructure. A tax on cigarettes and liquor will go to improving healthcare. A tax on property  and conspicuous consumption will go to education.

I intend to cut expenses without sacrificing basic services. I want a smaller, flatter and more efficient government.

We will shrink the public sector and grow the private sector. I have asked all cabinet heads to submit a downsized staffing plan within the next 60 days during which time there will be a moratorium on hiring except for key positions.

I have asked the Budget Office to renegotiate all our supplier contracts. Without bribes and middlemen suppliers should be able to lower prices without sacrificing their margins.

We will start retiring debt and lightening our national balance sheet by trimming our operating deficit, collecting outstanding tax receivables, disposing non-core assets and managing our obligations more creatively.

We will institute a 10/10 program. We will raise tax revenues by 10% and lower expenses by the same number: This will almost totally erase our budget deficit now projected at P325billion. Other countries have announced cuts of up to 40% of their expenditures so what I seek is possible. This will allow us to start paying down our debt.

Interest expense presently accounts for around 20% of expenditures so we will have additional savings to use either for capacity building or further reduction of our obligations.

We have an annual stream of $15 billion in foreign remittances. I have asked my finance people to study how we can harness this inflow so our overseas workers can enhance their savings returns even as they help finance our economy. These returns are now being reaped by foreign funds and wealthy Filipinos when they could be benefiting our hardworking countrymen.

I have asked for an actuarial review of GSIS and SSS  to ensure that the pensions of our elderly are protected.

My goal is for the Philippines to have an investment grade rating by the end of my term.

Economic Reform

We have identified our human resources and the our land as the country’s core assets upon which we will propel the economy.

We will expand our market share in overseas jobs for Filipinos by focusing on marketing and education. This will mean more and, equally important, better jobs for our countrymen and women. Our foreign embassies will be at the forefront of the marketing effort.

We will assist the private sector in competing aggressively for business outsourcing in customer, transcription and backroom support. Through education and technology we will seek higher value added services to improve the income potential of workers.

We must make our manufacturing more competitive worldwide not through lower wages but through quality, reliability and design.

Tourism should be at the forefront of our product offering. T0 the basic ingredients beautiful land and people we must add infrastructure, service, environment and travel ease.

Exploitation of our mining and other natural resources will be balanced against the environmental impact.

We will improve our infrastructure to address a looming power shortage and to narrow the classroom and housing gap. This will create jobs and propel the local economies. These investments in our future we will finance through internally generated funds, project specific loans and private sector partnerships.

We will support small businesses by simplifying the regulatory procedures and promoting micro credit. We must encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. Our embassies must help open export markets for these budding businesses.

Lastly but not least we must energize our agricultural sector. It accounts for 35% of employment. We must make farming a lucrative endeavor by lowering input costs, providing irrigation and farm to market access, easing financing and strengthening  farmers’ distribution capabilities.  Food security will be one of the priorities of this Administration.

The sum of our efforts will encourage foreign investments. They do not have to be invited. They will know a good thing when they see it.

(To be continued)

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About Leo Alejandrino

The blog is principally a commentary on Philippine politics and economics.
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