Lacson presses Senate review of inflation, TRAIN Law impact, peso decline

SEN. Panfilo Lacson on Sunday pressed for a congressional review of the factors behind inflation, as well as the impact of a declining peso on the economy, including foreign debt.

Asked to assess the economy two years into the Duterte administration, Lacson observed it did well initially, crediting this to the economic “fundamentals” earlier set by its predecessor.

“I will give credit where it is due,” he said in a radio interview over the weekend. “The first year appears to be the tail end of good economics started under the previous administration.”

But Lacson added things went awry on the second year of the present administration “due to several factors” including passage of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion, “mixed with exchange rate fluctuations and oil price hikes.”

Still, the Senator suggested the need  for authorities concerned to focus, citing the existence of “extraneous factors that we may not have full control of but can mitigate through policy we will enforce.”

Lacson likewise proposed that economic managers meet anew to fully assess the situation driving up prices.

Lacson lamented the authorities concerned initially kept on denying that prices were going up even as consumers were already bearing the brunt of skyrocketing costs of basic commodities.

“The situation did not improve. Actually, it even worsened,” the Senator added.”Whether they admit it or not, the situation went bad and the people felt this. When people complain, it means the basics of our  economy are not good.”

Sen. Lacson noted that when prices of basic commodities  go up, it triggers problems because people need to adjust to make ends meet, more so when prices of petroleum products go up affecting everything else.

“The economic managers should make re-assessments,” he added.

The Senator indicated that the upcoming Senate review will also look into the country’s debt obligations which, he notes, now stood at P6.832-trillion even after it went down to P5.9-trillion.

He expects the Duterte administration to rely on dollar-denominated external debts to bankroll its massive infrastucture projects.

Because of the agressive push for the so-called Build-Build-Build program, he said this will require massive funding “and because revenues generated are not enough, they resort to borrowing.”

At the same time, Sen. Lacson vowed to fight for lowering the value-added tax in exchange for reducing VAT exemptions. “If that is where TRAIN is headed,” he added, his staff is “studying how to introduce remedial legislation” even as the rule says all money measures must emanate from the House of Representatives.

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Butch Fernandez is BusinessMirror’s senior political reporter based at the Senate. He has covered Malacanang (3 presidencies), the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, local governments and defense since 1984.

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