Gov’t spending seen to boost Q3 growth

September 20, 2019

Socioeconomic Planning Sec. Ernesto Pernia said he expects economic growth to expand above six percent in the third quarter, as government spending picks up and inflation rate stabilizes.

“I think we’ll have a higher performance,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a public policy conference organized by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

Pernia, also director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority, said economic growth in July to September can be higher than the second quarter and the first semester average growth of 5.5 percent.

The slower growth in the second quarter was attributed to the continued effect of the delay in the passage of the 2019 national budget, coupled with the ban on public works and other spending leading up to the May elections.

Cielito Habito, former NEDA chief and now a professor at Ateneo de Manila University, cited the global growth forecast of the International Monetary Fund at 3.2 percent in 2019, with growth coming from emerging markets and developing economies, including the Philippines.

“So even though it is bad news that our GDP growth slowed down to 5.5 percent, still (it is) among the fastest growth rates of the world. So we can be quite proud of the fact that we are there,” Habito said during the policy conference.

Pernia earlier said the country’s gross domestic product was expected to settle this year at 6 percent to 6.5 percent, well within the government’s six percent to seven percent target for the year, as the country speeds up the implementation of infrastructure projects.

He further downplayed the impact on inflation expectations of the attack on Saudi Arabia’s production sites last Saturday.

He also did not see any need to revise the country’s inflation target, “not unless something like this is prolonged.”

“Saudi has said they will be back in business, full business by the end of September. So it’s an ephemeral thing, short-lived,” the NEDA chief added.