WHILE the country’s economy really needs to be perked up even before the start of the global financial crisis, the P330-billion economic stimulus package that is being pushed by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must be met by the people with skepticism and vigilance, the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) said.
Heaping scorn on the said plans as “devious, callous and hot air,” the APL warned that the funds could be siphoned again to GMA’s top cronies or to the administration candidates in the 2010 elections, recalling the many corruption charges against her close family members and associates, including the “fertilizer scam” or the Department of Agriculture’s P728 million fund that was allegedly diverted to Arroyo’s 2004 presidential campaign kitty.
APL clarified that this “stimulus package” would always be suspect because it does not have clear and specific programs – detailed amount for each identified project – save for its broad aims to supposedly “upgrade infrastructure, expand social protection and ensure sustainable growth in the midst of the global economic crisis.”
“Without clear programs, this ‘stimulus package’ will just end up ‘stimulating’ once more the oversized greed and pockets of Arroyo’s henchmen and sycophants,” Daniel Edralin, APL chair, said.
Edralin reiterated that for this program to be effective, it must be a part of a bigger and genuine development package encompassing asset reform, including agrarian reform program; and jobs generation, through massive investments in public housing and other infrastructures, agro-industrial development, and in social services.
In particular, the program should aim at “revitalizing the local economy, one that would spur domestic industrial production and would revive the agricultural sector,” Edralin added.
Part of Arroyo’s so-called “economic resiliency program” will come from the 2009 General Appropriations Act (GAA) and from the pension funds of the Social Security System (SSS), or amounting to P56.1 billion and P12.5 billion, respectively.
Edralin sneered at the claims that the GAA counterpart will be sourced from “debt cuts,” stressing that this is a sick joke since the law that automatically allots at least 30 percent of the national budget to foreign debt payment has not yet been repealed by the congress and, in fact, is being faithfully abided by the government every year.
It is also “the height of callousness” to funnel to the “stimulus package” the hard earned money contributed to the SSS by private sector workers and the self-employed, Edralin said, adding that “the Arroyo regime has no right to use the workers’ funds to prop up its continuously deteriorating image and plummeting popularity.”
The APL also expressed fear that the “stimulus package” will be used to “bail out businesses close to the government, which, in effect will ‘subsidize or socialize their losses’ despite ‘ravenously privatizing their gains’ during the better days.”