August 8, 2019
The Philippine economy grew 5.5 percent in the second quarter, the lowest growth out turn in four years, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said on Thursday.
The April to June gross domestic product growth was lower than the 6.2 percent expansion during the same period last year and also way below the 6 to 7 percent growth target this year.
"The weak economic performance during the second quarter of 2019 is the continuing effect of that delay in the passage of the 2019 budget, coupled with the election ban," Pernia, also director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, said in a press conference in Pasig City.
President Rodrigo Duterte was only able to sign into law the P3.757-trillion budget last April after the Senate and the House of Representatives accused each other of "insertions" in the General Appropriations Bill.
The Commission on Elections also implemented a ban on public works in relation to May midterm polls.
"For this reason, we are calling for the timely passage of the national budget for fiscal year 2020, so as not to derail next year's economic growth," Pernia said.
The Department of Budget and Management has yet to forward to the House the proposed P4.1-trillion budget for next year.
Pernia expressed belief that the lawmakers would be "embarrassed" if the passage of the proposed budget would again be delayed.
The Senate and the House are composed mostly of administration allies.
Philippine Statistics Authority head Claire Dennis Mapa said among the major economic sectors, services had the fastest growth with 7.1 percent; industry, 3.7 percent; and agriculture, 0.6 percent.
Pernia expressed optimism that the agriculture sector would have a turn around under the new leadership of Secretary William Dar.
For the government to reach at least the low-end of the full year growth target, the NEDA chief said the economy has to grow by an average of at least 6.4 percent in the second half.
He said the government must continue to fast track the implementation of infrastructure program and for the new Congress to pass the priority measures, such as the Trabaho Bill, amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, the Public Service Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and the revised Security of Tenure bill.
He also underscored the huge potential of the tourism sector, "especially since travel has been largely insulated from the trade wars and other tensions that we have been witnessing."
"Strategic and sustained efforts to ramp up the tourist sector will greatly help compensate for the moderation of the goods exports," he added.
Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, quoting the economic managers, said the slowdown was only "temporary."
"Just like before, we are doing something," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS
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