PH positive on meeting macroeconomic targets

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MANILA— Malacañang remains optimistic in meeting its macroeconomic targets amid the lower-below-expected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of the year.

“While growth has slowed down in the second quarter of this year, the Office of the President has been assured by our economic managers that this is simply a temporary setback,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Friday.

“The Palace remains optimistic in pursuing our macroeconomic targets despite the challenges we face as a nation,” he added.

The country’s economy expanded by 5.5 percent in the second quarter of 2019 but slower than the 6.2 percent growth during the same period last year.

Citing Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia’s observations, Panelo attributed the slowdown to several challenges the Philippines faced in the second quarter of 2019.

This year, Panelo said the El Niño phenomenon contributed to the decline in palay production by 5.5 percent and corn by 8.4 percent. The climate pattern also slowed household consumption from 6.2 percent to 5.6 percent.

Among others, the election ban last May on public works, infrastructure, and related spending– aggravated by the budget impasse, also affected the country’s progress in the said period.

“Finally, there were external factors, primarily the growing protectionist approach of advanced economies, which impacted our information technology-business process management (IT-BMP) and export sectors. We fully agree with these observations,” Panelo said.

Measures undertaken

Notwithstanding these challenges, the Philippines’ economic managers have undertaken several measures to ensure that our domestic growth remains sustainable, he pointed out.

The Rice Tariffication Law is in place to protect Filipino farmers from various risks in the market, such as the effects of El Niño, and make their sector more profitable.

In pursuing sustainable economic growth, the NEDA through Pernia also proposed the creation of an apex water body to address the water crisis brought by the El Niño and establish mechanisms for resiliency in the agriculture sector.

Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte already directed concerned government agencies to undertake pre-procurement processes to attain target disbursements in addressing the economic impact of the previous ban on public construction activities.

The chief executive has now instructed these agencies to expedite the approval of permits and requirements for public construction projects, said the Presidential Spokesperson.

The Department of Information and Communications Technology, together with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, have also received directives from Duterte to aim higher value-added business processes to enhance the IT-BMP sector.

“Likewise, tourism is made a priority early on, and fortunately international travel has not been affected by the ongoing trade wars even as we expect the growth of this sector offset the drop in our exports,” Panelo added.

Meanwhile, Malacañang called on the Congress for the timely passage of the national budget for the Fiscal Year 2020 for the continuing implementation of the “Build, Build, Build” Program.

Panelo echoed the Palace’s request for lawmakers to prioritize the legislative agenda of the President, which include the TRABAHO bill, the Foreign Investment Act, the Public Service Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and a revised Security of Tenure Bill, to address investment uncertainties caused by external factors.

“The President and this administration are facing these challenging times head-on, confident that our country will go back on track in keeping the growth momentum in the right trajectory,” he said.

“The President remains committed to making the lives of all Filipinos secure and comfortable,” he added. (PNA)

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