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Govt eyes 14 priority bills before elections

The government wants to pass at least 14 priority bills before the election season to help to fast-track economic recovery from a coronavirus pandemic.

The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) met a few days ago to discuss the priority measures, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez told a Manila Times online forum on Friday.

“We agreed on a menu of measures that need to be passed before the election period begins some time in March next year,” he said.

The bills endorsed by the council would be certified as urgent by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said in a mobile phone message. “We will release a list soon.”

The council is made up of 20 members that include Mr. Duterte, Vice President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, Mr. Chua, Mr. Dominguez, and three other Cabinet members, four senators, four congressmen and three members from local governments, the youth and private sector.

Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda said among those endorsed by the council were a bill seeking to help distressed small companies, one that will reform property valuation and assessment and another that will simplify the tax structure for financial instruments.

Also on the priority list are proposed changes to the Public Service Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act and Foreign Investment Act, as well as amendments to Agri-Agra law, proposed Medical Reserve Corps Act and the creation of a Disease Prevention and Control Authority.

“That’s not an exhaustive list of what we are limited to doing for the next few months,” Mr. Salceda, who heads the House ways and means committee, said in a Viber message.

Economic managers expect the economy to grow by as much as 7.5% this year after a record 9.5% contraction in 2020. Mr. Dominguez said economic reform measures could help the country to recover.

“We cannot recover all that we lost in 2020 in one blow,” he said. “It will take us more years to nurse our economy to where it was before the pandemic struck.” — Luz Wendy T. Noble

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