MALACAÑANG and Congress last Monday agreed on 28 legislative priorities for the term of President Rodrigo R. Duterte that ends in mid-2022, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said in a statement yesterday.

“In its second meeting under the Duterte administration yesterday, the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) approved the Common Legislative Agenda (CLA) for the 17th Congress,” the press release read.

The CLA, NEDA said, consists of 28 bills, 14 of which were tagged by the LEDAC Executive Committee as urgent last July to emphasize the necessity of having them enacted within the year.

The 20-member LEDAC was formed under Republic Act (RA) No. 7640 during the administration of former president Fidel V. Ramos, who held its first meeting on May 19, 1993, a year into his term.

Aimed at improving coordination between the Executive and Legislative branches of government, LEDAC was designed to fast-track enactment of reforms.

Currently, the full council is led by Mr. Duterte and consists of Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, Senate President Aquilino L. Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, among others, with NEDA serving as its secretariat.

The same NEDA statement quoted its director-general, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, as noting that 21 of the 28 CLA measures were counted as priorities under the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 (PDP).

“This development only shows that the whole of government is moving forward in the same direction,” Mr. Pernia said.

The PDP, approved in February, spells out steps the Duterte government will take in a bid to prod economic growth to a faster pace in order to lift more Filipinos out of poverty by the time Mr. Duterte steps down in 2022.

That will make the Philippines an “upper middle income” economy in five years under the World Bank’s classification, from its current “lower middle income” status that puts it in the company of Bangladesh, Bolivia, Cambodia, Congo, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Mongolia, Mynamar, Sri Lanka, Syria and Vietnam, among others.

Specifically, the government now aims to prod gross domestic product (GDP) expansion to 7-8% annually until 2022, compared to last year’s 6.9% — which was just below the top end of an official 6-7% target for 2016 — and a 6.2% average from 2010-2015. The first six months of 2017 saw GDP grow by an average 6.45% against economic managers’ 6.5-7.5% full-year target. By 2022, the government targets per capita income to hit $5,000 from $3,550 in 2015, unemployment rate to ease to 3-5% from 5.5% in 2016 and poverty incidence to go down to 13-15% from 21.6% in 2015.

Mr. Pernia explained that the CLA was derived from the Common Legislative Priorities of Congress, consisting of 39 priorities adopted by both chambers of Congress and the President’s Legislative Agenda that consisted of 55 measures.

Of the 28 legislative priorities identified last Monday, Mr. Duterte signed into law last Aug. 3 RA 10931, or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, that provides tuition subsidy to students of state universities and colleges.

Mr. Pernia noted that the necessary bills have been filed for all the measures in both houses of Congress, and that 10 are “in advanced stages of legislation”, namely: proposals for tax reform, a national land use act, rightsizing of the national government, a free irrigation act, ease of doing business act, national mental health care delivery system, occupational safety and health hazards act, strengthen the Balik-Scientist Program of the Department of Science and Technology, a Philippine qualifications framework and amendments to RA 8282, or the Social Security Act of 1997.

Palace, Congress agree on target bills