House leaders ‘bullish’ on 2023 PH growth prospects

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

January 26, 2023, 6:40 pm

<p>(File photo)</p>

(File photo)

MANILA – Speaker Martin Romualdez on Thursday said the Philippines could sustain its economic growth rate and even outperform its 7.6-percent full-year expansion last year with the continued implementation of the Marcos administration’s prosperity roadmap.

“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 reaction to the report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on the country's high-growth performance in 2022.

Romualdez said the nation’s economic performance shows that the Marcos administration’s prosperity roadmap is on the "right track".

“Under the able leadership of the President, the nation’s GDP (growth domestic product) has been above 7 percent for the first six months of his term. His decision to reopen the economy despite the pandemic boosted growth,” he said.

He pushed for the passage of necessary legislation, including the Maharlika Investment Fund bill and measures to speed up the country’s digital transformation, to support the Agenda for Prosperity.

“The enactment of these proposed pieces of legislation will further enhance our economic performance,” he said.

‘Best is yet to come’

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Joey Salceda, meanwhile, said he is “bullish” about 2023 prospects for the Philippines, despite fears of a global economic slowdown, saying that the "best is yet to come".

“What excites me for 2023 and for the medium-term is the growth in gross capital formation. Businesses, in other words, are investing – and their expenditures for those investments reflected well on the figures," he said. "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.”

He said the country's 2022 full year GDP growth rate of 7.6 percent, which exceeds the economic managers’ target range of 6.5 to 7.5 percent GDP for the whole of 2022, is a "triumph" for the administration’s policy of allowing the recovery momentum to proceed in full swing.

"For this achievement, I credit affirmative policies to scale back Covid-19 restrictions following a reduction in risk, a recovering tourism sector and major leaders such as the BPO, electronics, and mining sectors, the continuation of a policy of opening up the country to investments, and reaffirming our traditional economic partnerships with the world,” Salceda said.

Salceda said he expects inflation “to taper off" in 2023 to more "normal" levels, recommending that the government act on policies that undercut the cartels in the sugar, onion, frozen meats and other key food sectors.

“I have no doubt we will grow in 2023. Probably in numbers that once again surprise. But the best way to make that growth felt in the most basic sectors is to lower food prices," he said.

“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," he added.

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) also welcomed the country's full-year growth to 7.6 percent, which makes the Philippines the fastest-growing economy among the countries in Asia that have reported latest GDP figures. This is followed by Vietnam’s 5.9 percent growth and China’s 2.9 percent growth.

TUCP, however, stressed the need to address problems of surging inflation and low job quality so that the Filipino people better experience the 7.2 percent fourth-quarter GDP growth in 2022.

"Growth to be fully meaningful must be inclusive. Growth to be genuinely felt by all must also trickle down more quickly. As it is, what is still being felt by the poor is the surge in the prices of basic goods and services," the TUCP said.

To cushion the impacts of inflation, the TUCP urged the government to go after unscrupulous cartels and smugglers who are “gaming” the market to make quick profit-taking to the disadvantage of ordinary Filipino consumers and detriment of farmers.

The TUCP also called for the expansion of “Diskwento Caravans” and “Kadiwa Stores” to bring affordable commodities to the most densely populated and poorest communities where most workers and their families live.

To mobilize high growth to create new decent jobs, the TUCP reiterated its proposed jobs agenda through the formulation of an industry promotion strategy; provision of financial and technical assistance to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); and establishment of establishment of regional and provincial agro-industrial hubs interconnected by a national railway system that will generate jobs, ensure food security and democratize wealth creation.

In a report on Thursday, the PSA announced that the GDP posted a growth of 7.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022, resulting in a 7.6 percent full-year growth in 2022.

It said the main contributors to the 4th quarter 2022 growth were wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, 8.7 percent; financial and insurance activities, 9.8 percent; and manufacturing, 4.2 percent. (PNA)