President Duterte has created a new, specialized group at the Department of Finance (DOF) that is tasked to provide strategic advice and research on fiscal policies in support of his administration’s socioeonomic reform agenda focused on sustaining high growth, eradicating extreme poverty and growing the economy to upper-middle income status by 2022.
In Executive Order No. 31 which took effect last June 28, the President said the Strategy, Economics, and Results Group (SERG) will be directly under the Secretary of Finance, who will assign an Undersecretary and Assistant Secretary to supervise its operations.
The SERG is now headed by Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua, whom DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has assigned to help craft the Duterte administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP) and coordinate closely with the Congress in finetuning this reform proposal designed to make the tax system simpler, fairer and more efficient.
Dominguez had signed Department Order 4-2017 last Jan. 20 adding the SERG to the DOF as part of the Department’s reorganization.
The EO signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea by authority of the President, formalizes Secretary Dominguez’s creation of SERG.
Under the presidential directive, the SERG is mandated to provide strategic advice to the DOF secretary as the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) chairperson of the Cabinet, “as regards fiscal policies and financial implications of the national government’s priority programs.”
The SERG is also tasked to conduct research on fiscal economics policy to support the government’s identified priority programs and manage and coordinate “transformative reforms of the DOF that will ultimately result in better life for all Filipinos, especially the poor and the marginalized.”
According to the EO, the SERG will consist of two offices—the Strategy Results Office (SRO), which will be headed by a government official with the rank of Director IV, and the Fiscal Economics Research Office (FERO), which shall be organized into divisions, each headed by a Division Chief.
The SERG will be manned by organic personnel from the DOF and other government officials or employees detailed or seconded from other agencies.
The SRO’s functions include:
· developing strategy maps and plans to convert the priority socioeconomic agenda into executive and legislative action from a fiscal perspective, complementing the National Economic and Development Authority’s Philippine Development Plan;
· providing fiscal policy advice and inputs to the DOF officials and the members of the EDC, including the performance of quality assurance and review of the pronouncements and policy decisions of the Secretary of Finance;
· managing an up-to-date data bank of fiscal economic insights, outlooks, risks and accomplishments for the Secretary of Finance’s domestic and international engagements, in collaboration with other DOF offices;
· preparing detailed implementation plans for the priority fiscal reforms in support of inclusive growth;
· monitoring the progress of identified priority programs and mitigate any emerging risks; and
· building fiscal reform coalitions with the public sector, private sector and civil society organizations to help deliver the priority programs.
The FERO, meanwhile, has the following functions:
· researching on and analyzing priority programs to ensure that fiscal policies and reforms translate into fiscal sustainability, inclusive growth, job creation and poverty reduction;
· simulating the economic impact of strategic tax reforms and other fiscal initiatives;
· monitoring and reporting economic and fiscal risks and prospects for the country and providing just-in-time technical notes to the Secretary of Finance;
· analyzng the equity and economic impact of various fiscal-related proposals of the legislature, industry associations, civil society and other stakeholders, and assess which ones are progressive and equitable proposals; and
· discussing and collaborating with development partners, investors and rating agencies to enhance market confidence in the economy.
“The presence of SERG as a specialized group in the DOF shall be co-terminous with the tenure of the Secretary of Finance under the current Administration,” the EO states.
Under EO 292 (series of 1987) or the Administrative Code and Section 82 of Republic Act 10924 or the 2017 General Appropriations Act, the President has the authority to create new offices and modify the organizational structures of agencies in the Executive Branch and create new positions or modify existing ones.