Spending catch-up plan crucial in meeting full-year GDP growth target – Angara

Published November 8, 2019, 12:47 PM

by Gabriela Baron & Minka Klaudia Tiangco

By Hannah Torregoza

Senate Finance Committe chair Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Friday said the Duterte government’s “spending catch-up plan” will be key in meeting the country’s full-year gross domestic product (GDP) growth target of 6 to 7 percent.

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara (Senator Sonny Angara Official Facebook Page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Angara made this assessment after the Philippines posted an economic growth of 6.2 percent in the third quarter of this year.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said that the GDP growth was a couple of percentage points away from the goal of six percent to seven percent.

The government attributed the GDP growth for the quarter to trade and repair of motor vehicles, personal and household goods and financial intermediation.

“The contribution of the government is to step up its spending, meaning actual payment for goods and services delivered,” Angara said.

“I am speaking of disbursements and not just obligation of funds,” Angara said.

The lawmaker said “a distinction between the two must be made because obligations are mere commitments while disbursements are payments made.”

Angara said the uptick in public construction spending was good news “because it means that we have somewhat recovered from the delay of the passage of the national budget.”

He also noted the gains in farm output “but we should not be contented with the numbers.”

Based on the survey, among the major economic sectors, services posted the fastest growth with 6.9 percent.

The service industry grew by 5.6 percent while agriculture delivered a surprise growth of 3.1 percent.

“The challenge is to prevent any backsliding and stop the ASF (African swine flu), the low copra prices and the dip in palay yield from pulling down the agriculture performance,” Angara said.

With the country’s projected population reaching 108.3 million in the third quarter of 2019, per capita GDP grew by 4.5 percent.

According to Angara, all government agencies must be aggressive in spending their budget for the remaining period of the year.

“I hope that we will be doing all the smart moves in the last two months that would allow us to meet the finish line goal of 6 to 7 percent growth,” he added.

“Sabi naman ng mga economic manager, there will be a last quarter spurt, buoyed up in part by the holiday spending and OFW remittances,” the senator said.

Angara said the fact that the country’s third quarter expansion outpaces China, India and Indonesia “can only be good news for all of us.”

He said this may be an indication that the government’s economic managers seem to be successful in pushing the right buttons.

“But this is like a UAAP game. This is just a quarter tally,” he said.

“The score that matters is the one for the full year but we are very optimistic about it,” he further said.