Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said that the government should not waste any opportunity to sustain the positive momentum of the growth of the Philippine economy.
Villanueva made this statement following the news from the Philippine Statistics Authority that the Philippine economy is growing faster than expected with a third quarter growth of 7.6 percent for the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The Senate Majority Leader said that the “economic revival is in the minds of all our colleagues in the Senate as we deliberate the 2023 national budget in the plenary.”
“We need to ensure that the national budget will support this positive momentum in our economic growth. For example, addressing the economic agenda of creating more jobs and building the necessary infrastructure to support development are main priorities,” he said.
Villanueva also cited a number of factors contributing to the growth momentum of the national economy. He said that Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research recently revising its 2022 GDP growth projection for the country from the initial 6.6 to 7.4 percent is an indicator of increased investor confidence.
The senator also said that the country’s September 2022 unemployment rate at 5 percent, which is the lowest in more than two years, not only sparks more confidence for investors and businesses but also shows that the current administration’s economic strategy is already taking effect.
“We need to ensure that the 2023 national budget would have sufficient social and economic support for the current positive growth momentum. The Senate is aiming for a national budget that favors sustainable growth and inclusivity, because no Filipino should be left behind while the economy is growing,” Villanueva said.
The Senate Majority Leader also remarked that part of the government’s support for the economic growth momentum should be to ensure food sufficiency, as the rise in food prices is the biggest driver of inflation, which hit 7.7 percent last October.
He said that, in the short term, the government can temporarily address food inflation by extending the reduced tariffs on basic commodities such as meat and rice under Executive Order No. 171, which shall expire after December 31 of this year.
But for the medium and long term, Villanueva said that the government should focus on food security by supporting the agriculture sector.
“Our agriculture sector urgently needs support to increase our capability and capacity for food production. By providing such, we hit a lot of birds with one stone: controlling inflation, generating jobs, and improving competitiveness of local food producers,” Villanueva said.
“No Filipino should go hungry as we grow our economy,” he added.