The Senate passed on third and final reading a bill which would require the country’s economic managers to appear biannually before a joint congressional oversight committee, to report on the status and direction of the country’s fiscal and monetary policies.
Senate Bill No. 1483, or the “Fiscal and Monetary Report Act of 2017” was approved with 18 affirmative votes, no negative votes and no abstention. The bill was sponsored by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee of Economic Affairs and Finance, and co-sponsored by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto. Gatchalian said that the bill mandates the secretaries of the Department of Finance (DOF), National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), as well as the Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to appear biannually before the new Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Fiscal and Monetary Policies, “to report on the status and the directions of the fiscal and monetary policies of the state.”
“It is the avowed intent of the proposed act to champion the public interest towards transparency of the country’s fiscal and monetary policies to support the government’s mechanisms of check and balance and to enhance congressional oversight of our fiscal and monetary policies on the development directions of our country,” he said in his sponsorship speech for the bill.
“The Fiscal and Monetary Report Act of 2017 does not only adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability. It is also a measure that is consistent with the country’s commitment to good governance,” he added.
Under the bill, the biannual reports would include data on “economic developments and prospects for the future, taking into account past and prospective developments in employment, unemployment, production, investment, real income, productivity, exchange rates, international trade and payment, and prices.”
An amendment introduced by Gatchalian also included the status of the national budget as among the data to be reported by the DBM to the Senate.
The bill said that the reports would be submitted to the new Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Fiscal and Monetary Policies which will be chaired the chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs as chair, and co-chaired by the chair of the House Committee on Economic Affairs.
The chairs of the Senate Committees on Finance, Ways and Means, and Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, along with the chairs of the House Committees on Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Banks and Financial Intermediaries, and (1) representative each from the Senate minority and the House minority, would serve as members of the oversight committee.
“This would ensure that Congress is kept abreast of the current position and direction of the government’s fiscal and monetary policies, especially with regard to the accumulation of foreign debt that could impact the country’s economic stability,” he said.
Gatchalian also said to promote accountability, copies of the reports to be submitted by the four agencies to Congress must be made available to the public through their official websites “within seven (7) working days following the submission of their respective reports.”
He added that the biannual appearance should be made on or before the last Tuesday of March and September of each year.