EXPLAINER: Functions and powers of the NEDA chief

Ralf Rivas

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EXPLAINER: Functions and powers of the NEDA chief


Former Aquino appointee Arsenio Balisacan is set to return to the National Economic and Development Authority under the Marcos administration. Here is an overview of his responsibilities.

MANILA, Philippines – The economic team of presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is taking shape, with several names being floated to head crucial positions that would impact the country’s financial stability and development.

Arsenio Balisacan, current chairman of the Philippine Competition Commission, was chosen to lead the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) once again.

Balisacan served as NEDA chief during the administration of the late former president Benigno Aquino III.

“In returning to a post I have previously held, we rely on experience and judicious reckoning of socioeconomic issues to build stronger foundations for a more robust, more inclusive, and more resilient Philippine economy,” Balisacan said on Monday, May 23. 

Here is a background of the functions of NEDA, as well as the role and powers of the NEDA director general or socioeconomic planning secretary:


NEDA consists of the NEDA Board and the NEDA Secretariat. The NEDA Board is the governing body that sets major development policy directions, while the NEDA Secretariat is responsible for research and technical support.

NEDA Board. The NEDA Board is composed of the president as chair, the socioeconomic planning secretary as vice chair, and department secretaries as members.

Assisting the NEDA Board are seven Cabinet-level inter-agency committees, in which the NEDA chief sits as co-chair:

  • Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) – Recommends the level of annual government expenditure and the ceiling of spending for programs, as well as debt service.
  • Infrastructure Committee – Tasked to provide recommendations on infrastructure projects, including highways, airports, seaports, railways, power generation, telecommunications, and disaster mitigation projects, among others.
  • Investment Coordination Committee – Evaluates the fiscal, monetary, and balance of payments implications of major national projects and recommends the timetable of project implementation. It also advises the president on matters related to domestic and foreign borrowings.
  • Social Development Committee – Tasks include social welfare, public health, education, and housing and resettlement.
  • Committee on Tariff and Related Matters – Advises the president and the rest of the NEDA Board on tariff-related matters and the impact of various international developments on the country.
  • Regional Development Committee – Promotes regional growth by formulating and monitoring projects and guidelines.
  • National Land Use Committee – Tasked to study matters concerning land use and physical planning, as well as resolve land use policy conflicts among agencies.

These inter-agency committees wield immense power, as they can make or break projects by spotting irregularities and detailing economic viability.

For instance, former socioeconomic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia said President Rodrigo Duterte’s ambitious plan to build bridges linking Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao would be costly and infeasible. Waters were too deep and the underground terrain was too uneven to the point that a new engineering technique may have to be discovered to make the bridges viable.

NEDA Secretariat. The NEDA Secretariat is headed by the socioeconomic planning secretary and is responsible for macroeconomic forecasting and policy analysis and research.

The NEDA Secretariat also provides high-level policy advice to the executive and legislative branches of government. (READ: Marcos can pursue what Duterte failed to do for economy – NEDA chief)

During the coronavirus pandemic, NEDA has been giving updates on the economic costs of lockdowns and the delayed resumption of face-to-face classes.

It drafted plans for economic recovery from the recession as well.

The NEDA Secretariat is also tasked to evaluate infrastructure projects and whether these projects are in line with the Philippines’ economic blueprint.

Most often, the socioeconomic planning secretary is invited to congressional hearings to shed light on matters covered by legislation that would have an economic impact.

Attached agencies

NEDA has seven attached agencies. These are:

  • Philippine Institute for Development Studies
  • Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency
  • Public-Private Partnership Center
  • Philippine Statistics Authority
  • Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute
  • Tariff Commission
  • Commission on Population and Development
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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.