By CHINO S. LEYCO
The national government’s higher spending on infrastructure and social services to cushion the effects of the Taal Volcano eruption, the African swine fever (ASF) and the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on the economy, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the trio of challenges arising at the onset of the year would not be significant enough to drag down the country’s economy, which is expected to grow by 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year.
Dominguez also said the economy, as measured by its gross domestic product (GDP), will also be supported by a low inflation rate and an expansionary monetary policy along with the on time passage of the 2020 national budget.
These resources will provide the government the tools it needs to accelerate public spending to offset the effects of the fresh challenges to the domestic economy, the finance chief assured.
Other positive developments in the economy cited by Dominguez were the government’s “much-improved” tax effort and the implementation of game-changing reforms.
“The key reforms already in place, and the ones forthcoming, have produced a pro-people economy and tangibly improved the quality of life at the grassroots,” Dominguez said at the recent Wallace Business Forum.
“We will pursue the socioeconomic reform program of the President with a decisiveness that this administration proved it can deliver,” he added.
Dominguez said that had the passage of the 2019 budget not been delayed last year, the economy would have expanded at a faster clip at 6.8 percent last year, rather than 5.9 percent.
He noted that while 2020 began with the “unexpected challenges” of the ASF, the Taal volcano eruption and Covid-19, the government has been on top of the situation and has acted decisively on them.
The ASF has been contained through the strict enforcement of biosecurity measures, an intensified anti-smuggling campaign and heightened meat inspection efforts.
Meanwhile, concerned government agencies and local government units are fast-tracking the release of production support, livelihood and financial assistance to affected farmers and fishers, and the implementation of recovery and rehabilitation plans for areas affected by the Taal Volcano eruption last month.