By Chino S. Leyco
The Duterte administration was maintaining its “fighting target” for economic growth this year to keep on track the government’s ultimate goals of lowering poverty incidence and creating more opportunities for Filipinos, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
In a statement, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Domiguez III said that at least 6.0 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth is still attainable for full-year 2019 despite the slower than expected expansion pace in the first six-months.
According to Dominguez, the country needs to sustain an above 6.0 percent GDP annually to hit the 14 percent poverty index target by 2022 and in creating more opportunities for law-abiding Filipinos.
He also added the swift congressional approval of the remaining packages of the comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) and other economic reform bills meant to further open up the domestic economy to investments.
On keeping the full-year economic expansion target of 6.0 percent or higher, Dominguez said a catch-up spending plan crafted for this year and the timely passage of the 2020 national budget will help the government achieve this growth target.
The finance chief expressed optimism that there would not be a repeat of the delay in the approval of the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA), in light of the much better working relations this time between the executive and legislative departments.
Economic growth settled at only 5.5 percent in the first half of 2019, which Dominguez said was not surprising, given the five-month delay in the enactment of the 2019 GAA.
The delay forced Malacañang to operate on a reenacted 2018 budget and hold off on the implementation of new and continuing projects that would have boosted growth in the year’s first half.
To avoid a repeat of the 2019 budget delay, Dominguez said the leaders of both the Senate and the House of Representatives were meeting every month to monitor the progress on the budget and the 25 priority bills of President Duterte.
Dominguez said that at the halfway point of President Duterte’s term, the economic team was more than ready to pursue further reforms, starting with the remaining CTRP packages, to enable the Philippines to secure an “A” credit rating before 2022.
“The passage of the remaining tax reform packages and other economic reforms will help us secure the A-minus credit rating within the next two years and achieve our 14 percent poverty target by 2022,” Dominguez said.
“There is reason to believe that the winds are in our favor and the stars all aligned, or as the naval prose goes, here we have fair winds and following seas,” he added.