Lacson: Palace ‘Shopping Ban,’ Dole-Out Subsidies Betray Headless Economic Strategy

By doling out subsidies one week and imposing a “ban” on shopping due to inflation the next, Malacañang has just betrayed its headless economic strategy to cope with rising costs of living, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson said Monday. 

Lacson said the inconsistencies in the Arroyo government’s economic policies had just given Filipinos a glimpse of why the Philippine economy continues to lag behind those of its neighbors.

“For an economist, Mrs. Arroyo is either absorbed in her own little world, or she is in a state of panic. Why else would she give billions of pesos in subsidies one week, then discourage Filipinos from shopping due to inflation?” he said.

He was referring to Malacañang’s “subsidy spree” last week, where it launched one program after another offering subsidies for power, fertilizer and education.

Lacson pointed out that in the case of power subsidies, Social Welfare secretary Esperanza Cabral – a career official – admitted the P500 power subsidy for poor families was a one-shot deal due to lack of funds.

Cabral had said that while her department proposed an eight- to 10-month subsidy for consumers in Metro Manila, the Palace insisted on spreading the subsidy to families nationwide, making it an insignificant one-time “assistance” of P500.

On the other hand, he noted that the Palace’s “advice” not to shop due to inflation came only after it learned that inflation went up to a dangerously high 9.6 percent in May.

Yet, he noted that despite a Palace “order” for public servants to conserve energy, vehicles with red (government) plates are still seen in malls and recreation centers during weekends.

“This government has been obsessed with image-building, even at the expense of Filipino taxpayers. Now that it faces a real economic problem, it lost the guts to make the hard decisions. No thanks to its inconsistent policies, we are seeing our economy in a mess,” he said.