Sherwin talks about BBM's 'king-sized' economic problems

Published June 25, 2022, 2:28 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The incoming Marcos administration has a daunting, king-sized economic problem and it needs all the help it could muster, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said on Saturday, June 25.

Interviewed by DWIZ radio, Gatchalian identified the big problems of President-elect Bongbong Marcos such as inflation, unabated weekly price increase of oil products, creeping global recession, a feared food crisis and Covid-19 pandemic recovery cost.

‘’Kinakabahan ako, Mabigat (I am fearful, it is weighty),’’ he added.

The incoming chairman of the Senate Ways and Means committee is heartened by the ‘’good choice’’ of President-elect Ferdinand ‘’Bongbong’’ Marcos Jr. when it comes to his managers, whom the lawmaker described as men of integrity and competence.

Returning Senator Loren Legarda earlier said the President-elect has chosen the “best team” to steer the economy.

They are Central Bank Governor Benjamin Diokno as finance secretary, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Monetary Board member Felipe Medalla as Central Bank chief, former Budget undersecretary Amenah Pangandaman as budget secretary, Arsenio Balisacan as secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and former University of the Philippines (UP) President Alfredo Pascual as Trade secretary.

”The President has chosen the best team to steer the economy through its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic,” Legarda said in a statement..

Apart from being experts in their respective fields, she added, members of the incoming economic team are known for their integrity and proven track record. ”They are also widely respected by the business community both here and abroad,” she noted.

Gatchalian said the Cabinet members’ appointments comprise the first step toward solving the gargantuan economic problems.

He said he would not sugar-coat the situation, adding that the country has to pay its debts (more than P12 trillion), which includes debts incurred to buy Covid-19 vaccines.

While Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Grace Poe want the suspension of the collection of excise tax on oil lifted, Gatchalian said this move should be adopted only as a last measure.

Gatchalian favors the giving of ‘’pantawid’’ (financial bridge) to the transport sector which entails close to P5 billion compared to more than P150 billion revenue loss should the excise tax be suspended.

He said the government still has unobligated funds in the national budget for this scheme.

Gatchalian is the current chairman of the Senate Energy Committee which conducted this week a consultative meeting with stakeholders in the transport sector.

He expressed hopes that the incoming Department of Energy (DOE) secretary has a long-term view of the energy problem of the country.

What is disheartening, he noted, was the view of the president of Exxon Mobil that the oil problem would last for five years.

Gatchalian, however, personally sees things differently, saying the Russian-Ukraine war might last until the end of the year. This would eventually pave the way to the easing of oil supply.