Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, 3 solons push for independent National Economic and Development Authority

THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) may soon become an independent agency.

The proposal, still unnumbered, has passed the approval of the House Committee on Appropriations.

The bill seeks to institutionalize the NEDA as an independent economic and planning agency of the Philippine government.

The measure, also known as “The National Economic and Development Authority Act of 2018”, is principally authored by former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

It substituted for HB 8527 by Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda;  HB 8124 by Deputy Speaker Arthur Yap, and HB 8189 by Valenzuela City Rep. Wes Gatchalian.

The bill seeks to establish the NEDA as an independent economic and planning agency that shall provide impartial, objective, and evidence-based analyses and recommendations for the socio-economic betterment of the nation. The NEDA shall consist of two distinct but functionally related entities: the NEDA Board and the NEDA.

Rep. Salceda stressed that approval of the measure is long overdue.

“We need a stronger NEDA in order to sustain the reform initiative of the Duterte administration,” Salceda said.

Concerns of resource persons from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Civil Service Commission (CSC) and Department of Finance (DoF) were also settled during the meeting.

DoF Undersecretary Gil Beltran supported the spirit of the measure but worried over the effect of institutionalizing the NEDA as an independent body.

“While we believe that the NEDA should be a stronger entity, we believe it should be more interdependent than dependent. Because the moment you call the NEDA independent, it loses its coordinative goal in the committees,” Beltran said.

However, Salceda said that the bill qualifies the independence of NEDA in relation to its function of providing recommendations free from influences outside of its own objective and evidence-based analyses.

Salceda also pointed out that it is the first time that all the existing, coordinative bodies of NEDA are being recognized and institutionalized through the bill.

NEDA Undersecretary Adoracion Navarro said that the constitutional basis, which is Section 9, Article 12 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, for the creation of the proposed NEDA under the House bills indeed establishes responsibility to work closely with agencies of the government.