Gov’t growth target of 6% or above remains doable — House leader
MANILA, Philippines — The House leadership is hopeful that an economic expansion of 6 percent or above —as targeted by the Duterte administration’s economic team— remains “doable” by ramping up state spending in the last quarter, Deputy Speaker for finance Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Jr. said Tuesday.
In a statement, Villafuerte called on the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) to discuss measures that Congress could undertake to help the Executive accelerate state spending, especially on infrastructure and human capital development.
“Perhaps we need to further expedite the implementation of ‘Build, Build, Build’ — given infrastructure development’s great multiplier effects on the economy— in order to boost growth in the last quarter,” said the lawmaker, who is also a Ledac member.
The Camarines Sur 2nd District representative also said he was unsurprised by the tempered World Bank-projected 5.8 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for the Philippine economy this year. He blamed this for the delay in the passage of the 2019 national budget during the previous 17th Congress.
With the House’s early transmission of the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to the Senate before the Oct. 3-Nov. 4 break last Sept. 20, Villafuerte said the bicameral Congress is on target to submit a consolidated bill to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature before the year-end.
To recall, Congress’ passage of 2019’s P3.8 trillion national budget was delayed due to bickering among legislators about alleged illegal pork barrel and insertions. This led to the slow growth of the country’s gross domestic product, according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.
World Bank senior economist for the Philippines Rong Qian last week lowered the full-year GDP growth forecast for the Philippines, partly because of the four-month-and-a-half delay in the implementation of the 2019 GAB which had forced Malacañang to run the government on a reenacted budget and hold-off the roll-out of major programs and projects during that period.
The House approved the 2019 GAB on November 20 last year, but both chambers managed to ratify it only on February 8, 2019. Duterte signed this year’s expenditure plan last April 15, also vetoing some P93.5 billion that was “not within the programmed priorities” of his administration. /muf
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