Solons want review of budget debt plan

Senator Panfilo Lacson

Senators want a thorough review of the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for next year after Malacañang completed the draft of the measure following a marathon Cabinet meeting that ended early morning of Tuesday.

At least two senators also cautioned the government on borrowing P1.2 trillion in 2019 to finance its spending plan.

Both President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and Sen. Panfilo Lacson stressed the need to review the Bureau of Treasury’s plan to raise government borrowing for next year.

National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon had said the government plans to borrow up to P1.189 trillion in 2019, which is 33.85 percent higher from the originally-planned P888.23 billion.

“We should be careful when we borrow money. We don’t want to unnecessarily increase our debt and spend it on unproductive investments,” Recto said.

Recto cited rising interest rates and the possible effect of too much borrowing to the already volatile inflation rate.

“Interest rates are going up and future generations will pay for them. P1.2 trillion is a large amount. When government borrows too much money, it crowds out the private sector and may cause inflation,” Recto said.

Use appropriations first
Lacson lamented the planned borrowing, saying government could not even use up all its

yearly appropriations.

“When are we going to learn to live within our means or to have a balanced budget? It’s okay to borrow if we use and allot it for development to serve as investment because there will be returns,” Lacson said.

“Yearly, there are always huge unused appropriations. What is bad is that it is only being stolen by the corrupt who are craving for money. Meanwhile, our people pay the taxes,” he added.

Lacson also expressed concern over the continuing slide of the Philippine peso against the dollar which has a huge impact on the country’s foreign borrowing.

Debt remains a worry
“For one, our offshore debt stands at $73.1 billion. In July 2016, or exactly two years ago, the peso was P47.30 per $1. Now, it has shrunk to an all-time low at P53.40 per $1,” Lacson said.

“We don’t need to be rocket scientists to realize that right off we have to pay an extra P445.9 billion with the P6.1 difference. Add to that the fact that the manufacturing sector imports a great portion of its raw materials,” he added.