By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Senator Panfilo Lacson cautioned the government against its plan to borrow some P1.2 trillion from local and foreign lenders to augment the 2019 national budget.
Recto, on Wednesday urged the administration to be cautious in its increased borrowing program for next year.
“We should be careful when we borrow money. We don’t want to unnecessarily increase our debt and spend it on unproductive investments,” the Senate leader said in a text message.
Recto made the statement as he noted that interest rates are supposedly increasing and borrowing such “large” amount may trigger further inflation.
“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,” he warned.
Lacson, for his part, questioned the move as he lamented the government’s underspending of funds.
“Okay lang mangutang kung magagamit at may paglalaanang budget para sa development upang magsisilbing investment dahil may babalik sa atin (It’s okay to loan if the budget will be used and will be appropriated to development programs to serve as investments),” Lacson said.
“Ang problema, hindi naman nagagamit dahil laging malaki ang unused appropriations taon-taon. Ang mas masama pa, ninanakaw lang ng ilang mga masisiba na walang kabusugan sa pera, samantalang tayong mga mamamayan ang magbabayad ng kaukulang buwis (The problem is that unused appropriations are huge every year. What’s worse is that those who are greedy and have insatiable hunger for money may take advantage while the public pays for it),” he added.
Lacson appealed to the government “to live within our means” and maintianed instead a “balanced budget.”
The Bureau of Treasury earlier announced that it plans to borrow specifically P1.19 trillon to bridge the expected gap in the national budget next year.
The amount is higher by 19 percent compared with P996-billion borrowing program this year. The treasury said 75 percent, or P891.7 billion, will be loaned from the domestic financial institutions; while 25 percent, or P297.2 billion, will be from foreign sources.
The amount is expected to augment the fund for the Duterte administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.
Recto, meanwhile, vowed to review the P3.757-trillion 2019 national budget recently approved by President Duterte. He is expected to forward it to Congress after his State of the Nation Address on July 23.
“Yes, [we] will scrutinize the budget when it reaches us,” he said.