Congress asked to partner with DOF in passing crucial reforms to reduce PH deficit and debt

Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto today urged the Congress to partner with the Department of Finance (DOF) in swiftly passing crucial reforms needed to reduce the Philippines’ deficit and debt levels during the 2024 Philippine Economic Outlook Briefing and Luncheon at the Admiral Hotel, Manila.

“You already know the drill. None of these crucial measures will come to fruition without your help and backing. I, therefore, call on our friends in Congress to partner with us in securing the immediate passage of these reforms,” he said in his speech before senior staff of legislators as well as representatives from National Government agencies.

The briefing was conducted to help senior staff of legislators get a better grasp of the Department of Finance (DOF)’s priority bills and clarify any misconceptions they may have before sessions begin in Congress.

Resource persons from the DOF’s offices and attached agencies discussed the priority bills’ salient features, fiscal impact, and target legislative timeline.

During his remarks, Secretary Recto acknowledged the Philippines’ strong economic performance, which he said has regained its momentum from the downturn brought about by the pandemic.

As of the third quarter of 2023, the Philippines grew by 5.9 percent, making it the fastest-growing and strongest among major economies in Asia. The country outpaced Vietnam (5.3 percent), Indonesia and China (4.9 percent), Malaysia (3.3), and Singapore (0.7 percent).

Furthermore, the inflation rate has been decelerating and unemployment numbers have reached record-low levels, while external accounts remain robust.

The Secretary said the government has a reliable flow of revenues, while its current National Government debt-to-GDP and deficit-to-GDP ratios are within the parameters of the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF).

However, Secretary Recto stressed that the country must continue to decisively address inflation and further grow its revenue collections to finance economic development and people’s needs.

“[F]iscal sustainability can only be achieved if we install a system that guarantees fairer and more efficient tax administration,” he said.

Among these reforms include Package 3 of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) or Real Property Valuation Reform (RPVAR); VAT on Digital Service Providers (DSP); the Rationalization of the Mining Fiscal Regime; the Single-Use Plastic (SUP) Bags Tax Act; and Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises to Maximize Opportunities for Reinvigorating the Economy (CREATE MORE).

“These reforms will not only finance development but will reduce the deficit and our dependence on debt,” Secretary Recto said.

The Secretary added that the DOF is currently improving its proposals and expressed his intent to visit the Senate soon to personally discuss the reforms with Senators.

DOF Chief Economic Counselor Zeno Ronald R. Abenoja presented on the Medium-Term Economic Outlook and Fiscal Program; National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs Krystal Lyn T. Uy discussed Promoting Open Access in Data Transmission; DOF Undersecretary for the Privatization and Corporate Affairs Group Catherine L. Fong tackled matters concerning the Department of Water Resources; and DOF OIC-Undersecretary of the Fiscal Policy and Monitoring Group Karlo Fermin S. Adriano presented the DOF priority reforms.