By LYN V. RAMO
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms north of Manila) – While the Regional Development Council (RDC) head denies having seen a lot of money in circulation now that it is election year, the private-sector representative in the think-tank says otherwise.
Economic planners in both the government and private sector in the region welcome the temporary influx of money as it provides temporary relief, especially to the poor.
“Yes, there is so much money in circulation, but not money going to (government) projects,” said Dr. Virgilio Bautista, private sector representative to the RDC, in a recent press conference.
Bautista’s statements negate the earlier pronouncement by National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Regional Director Juan Ngalob, RDC chair, that he has yet to see the money circulating.
Bautista cited election-related spending like political advertisements, billboards and other campaign paraphernalia as factors that have reactivated not only the publication and printing industry, but also other related businesses.
“It will surely trickle down to the poor,” said Bautista, who was once accused of being anti-poor because of a pronouncement that he hates being poor. Grabbing a chance to clarify, Bautista said he wanted to share opportunities for growth to the other provinces and cities in the Cordillera so that not only one city or province would enjoy development.
A one-minute political ad aired over TV costs some P400,000, according to Bautista. A one-page ad in local tabloids costs at least P20,000.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Regional Director Myrna Pablo agreed with Bautista, saying the elections would surely provide opportunities for employment, even temporary.
The money in circulation comes from political parties and groups engaged in politics, the twoagreed.
“It will surely benefit business,” Pablo said, adding that for instance almost all printing presses in the city are no longer accepting jobs because they have their hands full until after the elections on May 10.
Election-related craft businesses are also expected to boom. “T-shirts are selling like hotcakes, together with other products usually taken as give-away in political sorties,” Pablo said, adding however the election’s impact on the regional economy would be but temporary.
In clarification, Ngalob said the government projects now being funded are either on-going or pending projects covered by previously approved program of work and budget allocation.
Meanwhile, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Regional Director Liza Fangsilat also clarified that because of the reenacted budget, the government could not implement new programs and projects. She also said that national government agencies, which fail to implement their program of work and thus unable to spend the budgeted funds, automatically “lose” the unexpended funds in favor of the national treasury.
“A new request based on a new program must be submitted for these to be availed of when the agencies are ready to implement the said project,” Fangsilat told this journalist in an interview shortly after the RDC press conference.
Three Cordillera towns are among the poorest municipalities of the Philippines. These are Kibungan and Kapangan in Benguet, and Natonin in Mountain Province.
Earlier, in 2006, the provinces of Abra and Apayao were among the country’s poorest provinces. Mountain Province was considered food-poor in 2003, but its local government officials refuse to accept it saying no one in the Cordillera is going hungry. (Bulatlat.com)