NEWLY appointed secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Arsenio Balisacan on Monday said that addressing the country’s rising debt and food prices are among the priorities of the new administration.

“I am happy to share that the President and the Economic Team are in substantial agreement on the overall goal of the new administration. We all agree to quickly revive job creation and poverty reduction by steering the economy back to the high-growth path while addressing government debt and the sharply rising prices of food and essential commodities,” said Balisacan in his statement during the Neda turnover ceremony on July 4, 2022.

Neda has welcomed the appointment of Balisacan as the country’s socioeconomic plannning secretary under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration.

The returning secretary expressed eagerness in reprising his role as Neda chief.

“I am deeply honored to serve Neda once again. When President Bongbong Marcos invited me to join his Cabinet as socioeconomic planning secretary, I was fully aware that the challenges before me were far more complex than the last time I was at Neda’s helm. Nevertheless, having always viewed public service as a great privilege, when the invitation to serve again came, I humbly accepted the challenge and responsibility of leading Neda, recognizing its critical role in the country’s recovery and post-pandemic development,” Balisacan said.

The Neda chief also stated his priorities to further the country’s economic recovery in 2022 and beyond.

Given these goals, Balisacan also shared three things stakeholders and Filipinos can expect from Neda under his leadership.

“First, expect Neda to be committed to pushing for necessary measures to raise the country’s economic performance. During my previous tenure here, Neda helped shepherd the country to a growth trajectory that was quite rapid relative to our Asian neighbors,” he stated.

Balisacan also emphasized enhancing Neda’s proactive engagement with its stakeholders on policy advising, planning, and monitoring.

“Second, we shall strive to be in the front rather than behind the curve of critical policy issues involving national and local development, including policy and program coordination,” he said.

Lastly, Balisacan highlighted Neda’s mandate to uphold a culture of openness, transparency, and professionalism concerning the direction of national economic policies, plans, and programs.

The ceremony, which was held in the agency’s new multi-purpose building, was led by former Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua, who passed on to Balisacan the symbolic Neda flag and a set of transition notes.

“There are many challenges to address, notably the scarring effects, in particular in education sector, and the rising risk of global stagflation. But I am confident that I am leaving Neda in very capable hands. It is my highest honor to welcome back Secretary Arsenio Balisacan to Neda,” Chua said.

“To Secretary Arsi and my Neda family, I assure you of my continued support as you steer this country out of the pandemic, manage the external risks, and lead the country closer to AmBisyon Natin 2040,” he added.

Balisacan served as the socioeconomic planning secretary during the late President Benigno S. Aquino III’s administration from 2012 to 2016. He spearheaded the conception of the AmBisyon Natin 2040, the country’s long-term vision and the basis for planning that aims to provide every Filipino with a strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure life by 2040. (PR)