Finance chief seeks dialogue on 'ambiguous' draft federal charter


Posted at Aug 10 2018 10:53 AM | Updated as of Aug 11 2018 05:12 PM

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez confers with President Rodrigo Duterte. Simeon Celi, Jr., Malacanang Photo/File

MANILA (UPDATE) - Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez on Friday called for further dialogue on federalism to discuss "ambiguous" provisions that could have "dire, irreversible economic consequences."

Dominguez earlier told lawmakers that he was "absolutely" against the proposed federal charter from a Palace-backed committee due to unclear provisions on revenue and expenditure assignments.

"As we pointed out earlier, we never stated that we are against federalism," Dominguez said in a statement.

"Rather, with respect to the fiscal provisions of the proposed Constitution, there are ambiguous provisions on revenue assignment and there are no provisions on expenditure assignment," he said.

There should be a discussion on the consultative committee's draft constitution "so that it is clear and unambiguous," he said.

Citing fiscal provisions of the draft charter, Dominguez said the country risked bloating the budget deficit, which could lead to a credit rating downgrade.

The government, if it adopts the consultative committee draft, will need to cut spending by P560 billion to avoid "negative economic consequences," he said.
"This means the national government may have to lay off 95 percent of its employees, or reduce the funds for the 'Build Build Build' program by 70 percent, or a combination of both," he said.

In a statement Saturday, MalacaƱang said it encourages "a healthy discussion regarding the draft federal Constitution."

"The opinion of the President’s economic managers is one of the myriad voices that would contribute to a higher level of discourse on the proposed federal charter," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.