Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the second quarter GDP growth was the highest for quarterly and semestral growth since 2014 and would enable the government to keep its growth targets on track for the rest of the year and in 2017. STAR/File photo
MANILA, Philippines – Economic managers of the Duterte administration said yesterday the sustained economic growth evidenced by the seven percent expansion of the gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter would give the Philippines enough headway to survive external shocks.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the second quarter GDP growth was the highest for quarterly and semestral growth since 2014 and would enable the government to keep its growth targets on track for the rest of the year and in 2017.
“Our strong macro-economic fundamentals will buffer the economy from external shocks,” Dominguez said. Headwinds are caused by volatile markets with the impending interest rate hike in the US, the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, and the slowdown in China.
With the sustained growth momentum for the past 70 straight quarters, Dominguez pointed out the Duterte administration would build on previous efforts to effectively implement its 10-point socioeconomic agenda.
“The numbers are good for the Duterte government to hit its growth targets of at least seven percent this year’s second semester and 6.5 to 7.5 percent in 2017,” he said.
Dominguez acknowledged the good policies of both the Aquino and Arroyo administrations.
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“We aim to sustain and even boost this strong growth momentum by accelerating spending on infrastructure and investing heavily in human capital, along with overhauling the tax system and rationalizing fiscal incentives to further stimulate the economy,” Dominguez said.
However, he cited the need to address the high poverty rate in the Philippines.
“But we still have a big task ahead of us to lower the poverty rate that have been stuck at 26 percent of our population,” he said.
Besides investments in infrastructure and education, Dominguez said the government would fully implement the Reproductive Health Law to realize the goal of reducing the poverty rate to 17 percent by the time President Duterte steps down in 2022.
“We expect to continue this growth trajectory but with a difference from the previous admin because we will be reducing poverty rates,” Dominguez said.
To make growth truly inclusive, the DOF chief said the Duterte administration would invest heavily in developing the country’s human resources, to empower poor families to be active contributors in developing the economy.
“But for government to do that, it must first sustain the growth momentum by way of a stimulus program anchored on accelerated spending on infrastructure, human capital and social protection,” Dominguez said.
The administration has submitted a P3.35 trillion national budget program for 2017 to Congress while the proposed comprehensive tax program would be submitted in September.