Economic slowdown due to 2019 budget delay

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

May 9, 2019, 4:11 pm

<p>Senator Panfilo Lacson. </p>

Senator Panfilo Lacson. 

MANILA -- Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday admitted that Congress could be at fault for the economic slowdown in the first quarter of this year due to the delayed passage of the 2019 national budget.

Lacson made the remark after the government reported that the gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2019, slower than the 6.5 percent growth recorded during the same period last year.

"Admittedly, Congress could be the main culprit for the lower than projected GDP growth rate at 5.6 percent as clearly the one quarter delay in the passage of the 2019 national budget slowed down spending," Lacson said in a text message.

"Hopefully, we can catch up in the succeeding months since election expenses normally contribute to better consumption of goods and services," Lacson added.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the reenacted budget sharply slowed the pace of the country's economic growth.

"We estimate that we should have grown by as much as 6.6 percent this first quarter, if we were operating under the 2019 fiscal program,” Pernia said.

The delay in the budget’s passage stemmed from an impasse between the Senate and the House of Representatives after the lower chamber made last-minute amendments to the final version of the bill approved by the bicameral conference committee.

In April, President Rodrigo Duterte finally signed the 2019 budget, but vetoed PHP95.3 billion worth of appropriation which is "not part of the President's priority projects."(PNA)