By Rey Panaligan
Retired Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Reynato Puno said on Thursday the members of the Consultative Committee (ConCom), which he heads, will meet with the government’s economic managers next week to iron out or reconcile the fiscal provisions in the draft federal charter.
Puno announced the meeting before the members of the Rotary Club of Manila in a hotel in Makati City.
The draft charter proposes the shift to the federal form of government and abandonment of the current presidential form. It had been submitted to President Duterte.
Puno believed next week’s meeting was on the initiative of President Duterte after Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia aired their concerns on the economic provisions drafted by the ConCom.
Dominguez had earlier said the shift to a federal form of government would be a fiscal nightmare if not managed correctly and efficiently.
Pernia, on the other hand, had said the financing for a federal government would raise the fiscal deficit to six per cent of the country’s gross domestic product ratio.
He had also said the proposed form of government would “wreak havoc” on the fiscal situation of the country.
Flexible fiscal formula
Puno said “whatever the disparate views, they can be reconciled by simply putting a flexible fiscal formula.”
He explained that a “flexible” fiscal formula is something that can be “reviewed” or “revisited” every three or four years by the Federal Intergovernmental Commission, a body proposed for creation in the draft federal Charter.
“If the time shows the need to give more revenues to the federal governments so let it be. If the time shows that the need is to give more money to the regions, that can be done,” Puno added.
ConCom Spokesman Conrado Generoso said “flexible” fiscal formula is not included in the draft federal Charter. But, he said, the new provision may be included in the proposed Charter if approved by the government’s economic managers.
Under the proposal federal form of government, the country will be subdivided into 18 federated regions, including the two asymmetrical regions of the Bangsamoro and the Cordilleras.
It proposed the placing of the entire Metropolitan Manila under just one federated region.
Earlier, Puno had said the draft federal Charter would not allow the President to rule the country indefinitely.
He had also said that the President did not influence the outcome of the recommendations made by the ConCom members.