MANILA, Philippines – One of the country’s prominent, but low-key, economists takes the helm of the government’s socio-economic planning agency, following the health-related resignation of National Economic Development Authority (Neda) Cayetano Paderanga Jr.
On Friday, May 10, the Palace signed the appointment papers of Arsenio Balisacan, University of the Philippines School of Economics dean and professor, as acting Neda director general, confirmed to deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.
Speaking on radio on Saturday, May 12, Valte said Paderanga, who assumed the position since in July 2010, has talked to President Aquino and expressed his intention to step down, citing health reasons.
Paderanga, who returned to the Philippines from his teaching stint in Japan to serve again as Neda chief (he also served under President Corazon Aquino) has hinted several times that he wouldn’t stay in his government post long and wants to go back to private practice. The switch never took place–until now.
The Neda chief is in charge of mapping long-term plans that affect the country’s ability to meet economic growth and societal needs.
The post usually involves assessing key and capital intensive infrastructure projects that are coordinated with various government departments, local governments, and funding agencies.
The Cabinet-level position makes it a key component of the economic managers team.
Prior to Cayetano’s resignation, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center was set up to oversee and coordinate crucial infrastructure projects of the government, ranging from roads, bridges, airports, schools and agriculture projects.
Balisacan — Paderanga’s colleague at the UP School of Economics and just as soft-spoken — is not a stranger to government and policy work.
His professional portfolio includes a stint as undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture (2000-2001 and 2003). He was the country’s chief negotiator in the World Trade Organization Agriculture negotiations and in various bilateral agriculture negotiations.
He has a good grasp of poverty and development issues, and has authored numerous books and academic papers on poverty, agriculture, Asian economy, and rural development.
He is also a favorite consultant among development, policy and aid agencies on issues hounding markets like the Philippines and other Asian nations. – Rappler.com