THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it is counting on the passage of priority bills this year, particularly the remaining tax reform packages and measures regulating land use and enhancing disaster resiliency.

In a news conference on Monday, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said these are among the priority bills that they recommend that Congress pass within the year.

Additionally, Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said reform bills on foreign investment and public services “are actually advancing quite well so we expect them to be passed by midyear because they have been prioritized.”

NEDA’s draft of the National Land Use Act (NLUA), meanwhile, has been presented to the Cabinet for approval. If approved, the version will feature the executive branch’s input which could break the Congressional deadlock on the measure, Undersecretary Adoracion M. Navarro said.

“We prepared, drafted an executive order and we will discuss it at the Cabinet assistance system meeting on Jan. 22, Wednesday, and then we will still push for legislation,” she said.

“In the President’s mind, this is an urgent bill. He has expressed it four times, 2016-2019 in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) and its something that he thinks is very important,” Mr. Pernia said.

Further, Ms. Navarro said NEDA is also proposing that comprehensive land use plans have a longer, 12-year planning horizon and should also be hazard-sensitive.

“It’s actually something that’s very interesting to the president, he wants explicit and clear sanctions on local government officials when they violate NLUA, and one of the possible violations is not implementing the comprehensive land use plan. First not drafting the right comprehensive land use plan, and second, not implementing what’s in the comprehensive land use plan,” she said.

Meanwhile other bills included under NEDA’s suggested priority reform agenda are the unified penology system, the modernization of the national library, amendments to the Consumer Act, measures promoting e-vehicles, open access to data transmission and measures promoting technology adoption and innovation.

Also other proposed priority bills cover Philippine maritime zones, archipelagic sea lanes and amendments to Build-operate-and-transfer (BOT) law, among others. — Beatrice M. Laforga