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House bills on strengthening NEDA merged

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budget hearing

THE HOUSE COMMITTEE on Economic Affairs on Tuesday consolidated bills institutionalizing the National Economic Development Authority but deferred approval to include amendments giving the body stronger coordination at the local level.

“We have approved the consolidation of both bills, subject to amendments, particularly on independence and on giving priority importance to local government inputs through the regional development council,” Cebu City (3rd District) Rep. and Committee chair Gwendolyn F. Garcia said during the initial deliberation of the proposed measure, Tuesday.

House Bills 8124 and 8189, authored by Deputy Speaker Arthur C. Yap of the third district of Bohol and Rep. Weslie T. Gatchalian of the first district of Valenzuela City, both seek to increase independence of the country’s socioeconomic planning body. The NEDA currently operates under Executive Order 230, series of 1987, implemented by then President Corazon C. Aquino.

Ms. Garcia said the bills will strengthen NEDA as it grants the body more authority to coordinate with government offices as well as other stakeholders in developing the Philippines’ long-term development plan, among others.

Ito na nga ang magbibigay ng (This will give NEDA) muscle to now consolidate different plans, policies because you will now formulate in consultation with public agencies, civil societies and so on and so forth,” Ms. Garcia said.

While the consolidation of the bills had been approved, the panel suspended its consideration to consider amendments to the measure, particularly on the clear definition of NEDA’s independence and the mechanism at which the RDC (Regional Development Council) will coordinate with the National government.

“The handicap is that the RDC is not a body included in the provisions of the bills, rather it recognizes the RDCOM (Regional Development Committee)… what needs to be done is a further condition added that RDCOMs of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, be composed of the RDC chairs with no further representation from the vice chair,” Ms. Garcia said.

“I believe this is something that can be tackled further in the Bicam, because these practice of refusing to name an RDC chair has happened in previous administration(s),” she added.

The Senate, for its part, has started deliberations on the its counterpart measure, Senate Bill No. 1938, authored by Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian. — C.A.T.