Manila Bulletin : Chua hopes policy continuity under Marcos

By Chino S. Leyco | Manila Bulletin

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua is hopeful that the next administration will adopt policy continuity as he also cautioned against reversing some important reforms enacted under the Duterte administration.

Chua, who is also head of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said on Thursday, May 12, that the administration of presumptive president Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. should maintain a responsible and prudent fiscal policy.

Among the Duterte initiatives that Chua hopes will be maintained are the comprehensive tax reform, rice tariffication, Build, Build, Build, national ID, universal healthcare, ease of doing business, and the liberalization laws.

“All of them I believe should be retained not reversed,” he pointed out. “Policy continuity is the most important, I think, during this transition.”

However, Chua also said that the presidential frontrunner should begin in outlining his plans about the economy to temper uncertainties in the financial markets on the country’s transition process.

“I think the best way to address these concerns as what other analysts and investors have mentioned is for the new administration to lay out its agenda so that people will understand better that will alleviate any or possible concerns,” the NEDA chief said.

Since May 9, Marcos has only named one cabinet position—presumptive vice president Sara Duterte as education secretary.

However, Marcos acknowledged that “the economic managers are going to be critical for the next several years because of the pandemic and the economic crisis. So that is something that we are looking at very carefully.”

Last May 10, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said on Tuesday, May 10, that the transition process in the Department of Fiannce (DOF) has started, adding that their dialogue with the team of Marcos is “so far so good.”

Dominguez, however, declined to name the people they were talking with from the Marcos camp. “Let’s await their disclosure.”

A smooth transition at the DOF is crucial for the Marcos leadership, as his economic team will have to deal with rising consumer prices, and high debt load.

The finance chief will also oversee the Bureau of the Internal Revenue (BIR), an agency that demands the payment of unpaid estate taxes of the Marcos heirs.

In April, Dominguez said that President Duterte’s successor should avoid accumulation of additional government debt, and should prioritize policies that will entice more economic activity.

Dominguez said the debt problem incurred during the more than two-year Covid-19 crisis will be the biggest challenge for the next administration.