6% GDP ‘still high’ despite slowdown: Palace

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MANILA – Despite the slight decline in the gross domestic product (GDP) rate of 0.6 percent during the second quarter of 2018, Malacañang on Thursday said GPD for the period remains “very high”.

“I don’t think it is alarming because 6% is still high,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told a Palace media briefing.

“People, do not forget that we may have not have met the target, but 6% is very high – so putting things in perspective,” he added.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the GDP performance is lower compared to 6.6 percent growth rate registered in the 2018 first quarter.

The second quarter GDP growth rate is also the lowest since the second quarter of 2015 when it also hit 6.0 percent.

Roque said the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte will continue to work hard to meet “targets for the rest of the year”.

“Of course, we’re also saddened by the fact that we failed to meet targets by targets. We will do everything to meet them. If we don’t, we’ll find out why and we’ll try to achieve the further targets for the rest of the year,” he said.

Meanwhile, Roque defended Duterte’s decision to temporary close Boracay Island after National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director-General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia attributed the GDP slowdown to six-month closure of the famous tourist spot.

Pernia also reportedly cited the government’s mining crackdown as other reason for lowest economic growth in the last three years.

“If GDP will further fall because of the desire of the President to protect the environment, so be it. We’re investing in the future and not just in the present,” Roque said.

Despite lower GDP growth rate, the Philippines remains second among the ASEAN countries behind Vietnam which also suffered a decline from 7.4 percent to 6.8 percent.

Roque welcomed NEDA’s report that the country’s manufacturing sector has exhibited a sustained double-digit growth rate with an average of 20.6 percent for six months in a row.

In June 2018, preliminary results of the Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries (MSSI) released by the PSA, the Value of Production Index (VaPI) and the Volume of Production Index (VoPI) placed at 18.9% and 18%, respectively.

Roque also welcomed the International Business Report of Grant Thornton which said the Philippines is the second best in business optimism in Southeast Asia with 82%, which is 8 points higher than the first quarter of the year and above the ASEAN average of 64%.

The Philippines ranked behind only Indonesia at 98% but above Malaysia at 52% and Singapore at 32%. (PNA)

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