Economic growth target doable this year

The economy only needs to grow in the second half of the year by 5.2 percent to 7.2 percent to meet the full-year growth rate target, a Cabinet official said.

“For the first half of 2022, the economy grew by 7.8 percent, which is above the DBCC’s full-year growth target of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent,” Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said during the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s briefing for the House Committee on Appropriations recently.

“The expansion in the second quarter of the year was broad-based, with positive contributions from three major sectors — agriculture 0.2 percent year-on-year growth, industry 6.3 percent YoY growth, and services 9.1 percent YoY growth,” the secretary added.

Diokno assured legislators that the targets are very much doable.

“We are determined to pursue a faster, greener, and more inclusive growth that will benefit all sectors. This goal is guided by the Marcos administration’s 8-point socioeconomic agenda,” he said.

In the near term, the plan will address urgent challenges confronting Filipinos, particularly the impact of high commodity prices because of inflation and lingering economic scars from the pandemic.

Over the medium-term, the focus will be on creating more jobs, quality jobs, and green jobs through higher investments in smart infrastructure, human capital development, and digitalization.

Moreover, under the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework of the Marcos Administration, the government will implement fiscal discipline to reach the said goals.

The framework proposes measures that will improve tax administration, enhance the fairness and efficiency of the tax system, and promote environmental sustainability to address climate change.

The MTFF also aims to reduce the country’s debt-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio.

Castro alarmed

In a related development, House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Representative France Castro lambasted Diokno following the latter’s remark to discontinue the government’s ayuda in line with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are alarmed at the statements of Finance chief Benjamin Diokno at the briefing for the proposed 2023 national budget yesterday,” Castro said.

According to her, Diokno’s “concept of being ‘fully recovered’ from the pandemic is simply not having lockdowns and does not consider the rising numbers of jobless in the country, the rising cost of basic goods and services, and the 19.9 million poor Filipinos.”

It can be recalled that Diokno told the House Committee on Appropriations members on Friday that the distribution of the cash assistance in relation to the Covid-19 should be discontinued.

“On the giving of ayuda in relation to the crisis, I think that should already be discontinued because we have actually fully recovered. OK? And because of the limited fiscal space,” he said.

The partylist solon pointed out that Diokno’s “waste of fund” remarks were not far from his statement in 2016, when he was still the DBM secretary, that the teachers are “too ambitious” to ask for a salary increase.

“We must remind the Finance chief that these public funds come from people’s taxes. Taxes paid by the poor and the middle class through the excise taxes, VAT, and income taxes,” Castro voiced out.

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