Economic crisis needs urgent attention now – Sen. Escudero

Malacanang should snap out of denial about a so-called “silver lining” to the economic crisis in the country and immediately draw up a plan to keep the economy afloat, opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero said yesterday.

“In the last few months, the Arroyo administration has been telling us that our economy is not about to contract, that we can, in fact, still post a one-percent growth. As usual, naloko na naman tayo,” Escudero said.

“There is no silver lining to this economic crisis. The government has been in denial for too long. It must start from the premise that things will get worse before they get better. The question now is: what will government do?,” he added.

The World Bank on Monday said it expects the Philippines to be one of the few Asian countries to slip into “outright recession” this year. The Philippine economy is seen to shrink by 0.5 percent.

“This dire development should prod the government to attend to the economic crisis immediately, starting with a contingency program. Clearly, its so-called stimulus program will not be enough,” Escudero said.

The opposition senator said a contingency program should take more urgency in light of the dwindling collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which reported a shortfall of P4.2 billion for the month of May.

“The government should realize the gravity of these developments and its impact on employment, which in turn will impact on hunger and poverty levels. Huwag ng hintayin pang lalong lumala ang malala nang sitwasyon,” Escudero said.

He said government economic managers must be able to reconcile higher spending for pump-priming against dwindling revenues.

“The government should pay particular attention to the middle class, which is the main base for income tax collections. While minimum wage earners are being given relief, similar measures must be extended to the middle class,” Escudero said.#