NEDA chief wants three additional groups under his office

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 13) — National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Karl Chua wants more groups added under his office in line with efforts to reorganize the agency.

Chua told senators on Wednesday these proposed new additions are the Strategy and Results Group, the Monitoring and Evaluation Group, and the Legislative, Legal and Institutions Group.

Chua said the Strategy and Results Group will serve as the agency's "futures thinking" arm while the establishment of the Monitoring and Evaluation Group entails the separation of these functions currently spread out in the agency "to be more objective."

Meanwhile, the Legislative, Legal and Institutions Group will handle comments on proposed bills in Congress and reviews of "big" contracts from the likes of infrastructure projects and joint ventures.

Each headed by an undersecretary and supported by an assistant secretary, these will bring the total groups under the socioeconomic planning secretary's office to seven.

The proposal also includes the establishment of innovation and strategic foresight staff under Strategy and Results, along with evaluation staff under Monitoring and Evaluation. NEDA's legislative liaison will likewise be elevated to full staff under the Legislative, Legal and Institutions Group.

Infrastructure staff under the preexisting investment programming will be split into connectivity infrastructure, and social infrastructure staff.

"All of these, we will propose as amendments to the NEDA bill. It is not necessarily that we will ask for a big budget. We will try our best to do efficiency and internal reorganization so that we try to live within our means," Chua said.

Senators Win Gatchalian and Imee Marcos — who chairs the Senate Economic Affairs Committee — filed bills in the chamber aiming to institutionalize NEDA and define its functions and composition, among others.

Stronger regional offices

The NEDA chief also proposed measures to strengthen the agency's regional offices in line with the government's devolution efforts.

These include the assignment of an Attorney IV position and the establishment of a regional development council unit under the office of the regional director.

"Presently, our support as secretariat to the regional development council is on an ad hoc basis. We propose to make it more permanent by creating the RDC unit," Chua said.

Chua said the agency also proposed the creation of some positions for procurement and information and communications and technology "as we move into the digital economy and devolve more functions."

NEDA's proposed budget for 2022 is at ₱14.12 billion, just 0.2% higher than this year's - with the Philippine Statistics Authority again getting the biggest slice of the pie.

The Senate Finance Committee has endorsed the agency's budget proposal to the plenary.