‘PHL on high economic growth path after 7.6% growth in 2022’

House Speaker Martin Romualdez

House Speaker Martin G. Romualdez said Thursday the Philippines could remain on the “high economic growth path,” and could even improve its 7.6-percent full-year expansion in 2022.

“With the right policies that will continue to implement President Marcos’ Agenda for Prosperity roadmap, and with the existing close cooperation between the executive and legislative branches, we can build on our stellar economic performance,” Romualdez said in a news statement issued on Thursday.

The Speaker made the statement after the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) announced on Thursday that gross domestic product (GDP) in the October to December 2022 period grew by 7.2 percent, resulting in a full-year 7.6-percent growth in 2022.

The growth rate exceeded the government’s GDP growth target for 2022, which is 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent, the Office of the Speaker said in the  same statement.

Romualdez also stressed that the nation’s “economic showing” means that the  prosperity roadmap of the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is on the “right track.”

The Speaker also highlighted that the President’s decision to reopen the economy despite the pandemic “boosted” growth.

“Under the able leadership of the President, the nation’s GDP has been above 7 percent for the first six months of his term,” Romualdez said.

PSA said Industry and Services posted positive growths in the fourth quarter of 2022 with 4.8 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively.

However, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing (AFF) posted a contraction of -0.3 percent.

In 2022, AFF, Industry, and Services all posted positive growths with 0.5 percent, 6.7 percent, and 9.2 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Speaker called on Congress to continue supporting the Agenda for Prosperity with the needed legislation, including the Maharlika Investment Fund bill and measures to speed up the country’s digital transformation.

Romualdez stressed “the enactment of these proposed pieces of legislation will further enhance our economic performance.”

In a news statement in December 2022, Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said the Maharlika bill, which has been certified as an urgent measure, is designed to mobilize savings for augmenting funds for big-ticket infrastructure works and other priority programs meant to help the government improve the lives of all Filipinos.

Romualdez also said recalled that in December 2022, he stated that wealth fund “is intended to benefit future generations of Filipinos.”

Marcos endorsed House Bill 6608 as an urgent bill in December, enabling the House to pass it on second reading and then on third reading (by a 279-6 vote) before Congress went on its annual Christmas break from December 17 to January 22,2023.

Salceda ‘bullish‘

Despite fears of a global economic slowdown, House Ways and Means chair and Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said he is “bullish” about 2023 prospects for the Philippines.

“The 2022 full year [gross domestic product] GDP growth rate of 7.6 percent, which exceeds the [Development Budget Coordinating Committee] DBCC targets, is a triumph for the administration’s policy of allowing the recovery momentum to proceed in full swing,” Salceda said.

The lawmaker attributed this “achievement” to affirmative policies to scale back Covid-19 restrictions following a reduction in risk, a recovering tourism sector and major leaders such as the business process outsourcing (BPO), electronics, and mining sectors.

Salceda also noted that this growth rate can be attributed to the continuation of a policy of opening up the country to investments and “reaffirming the country’s traditional economic partnerships with the world.”

However, the lawmaker stressed that what “catches” his attention in the GDP figures is “not the usual growth and recovery in consumption,” which he said is to be expected.

The lawmaker also noted that what he’s excited for 2023 and for the medium-term is the growth in gross capital formation, saying that businesses are investing and their expenditures for those investments “reflected well” on the figures.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) estimates, gross capital formation grew by 16.8 percent year-on-year.

“That bodes very well for 2023 and beyond. That means the business sector is optimistic about the need for more production in the coming years. Don’t bet against the Philippines in 2023,” Salceda said.

Meanwhile, Salceda is also seeing “a sliver of hope in the agriculture sector.”

“Last year saw negative growth in breeding stocks and orchard development. That figure is now a very slight positive, at 0.3 percent,” the lawmaker said.

Salceda also pointed out that the energy sector appears to have some “momentum” based on the figures.

“The liberalization of the energy generation sector has yielded some benefits already, and I expect those benefits to grow in the medium-term. The growth in acquisition of power-generating equipment at 36.9 percent is staggering. This is the largest growth in expenditures on durable equipment except for water transport, which grew by an eye-popping 190.2 percent,” Salceda stressed.

In contrast, Salceda said that he expects inflation “to taper off in 2023 to more ‘normal’ levels. On the elevated side of normal, at around 4 to 4.3 percent. We can do better with policies that undercut the cartels in the sugar, onion, frozen meats, and other key food sectors.”

“That’s why we are doing work in the House Committee on Ways and Means to make policy and procedural reforms at the enforcement side so we can pop the price bubbles in the agri import sector,” the lawmaker said.

Salceda said, without a doubt, the country will “grow” in 2023. However, the best way to make that growth felt in the “most basic” sectors is to lower food prices.

The lawmaker also explained that while the output of the BPO and electronics sectors is “not too dependent” on domestic conditions, how that output translates to household welfare is “dependent” on food prices in the country.

“We are now a service-driven economy. That means our people are our single most important economic asset. In such an economy cheap food, housing, reliable internet and public transportation are the fuel of sustained economic growth. That’s what our people need to keep going at it,” Salceda pointed out.


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