MALACAÑANG on Friday, August 9, said the government will focus on the development of four sectors to spur economic growth.
These are the agriculture, infrastructure, tourism, and information technology (IT) sectors.
"The Palace remains optimistic in pursuing our macroeconomic targets despite the challenges we face as a nation," the Palace official said.
"The President and this Administration are facing these challenging times head on, confident that our country will go back on track in keeping the growth momentum in the right trajectory. The President remains committed in making the lives of all Filipinos secure and comfortable," he added.
He issued the statement a day after the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that the country's gross domestic product (GDP) grew by only 5.5 percent in the second quarter of 2019, the slowest in 17 quarters or over four years.
GDP, which measures economic activity, is the sum of the values of all goods and services produced in the country over a certain period.
The second quarter growth of 5.5 percent was slower than the 5.6 percent posted during the first three months of 2019 and the 6.2 percent recorded during the second quarter of 2018.
Panelo said Duterte's economic team had given assurance that the economic slowdown was just a "temporary setback."
He quoted Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, who had blamed the slowdown on the El Niño phenomenon, election ban on infrastructure and related spending, and growing protectionist policies of advanced economies.
"We fully agree with these observations," Panelo said. "Notwithstanding these inevitable challenges, this Administration, through our economic managers, has undertaken several measures to ensure that our domestic growth remains sustainable."
Panelo noted that Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law is being implemented to protect Filipino farmers from various risks in the market, such as the effects of El Niño, and make their sector more profitable.
He also cited Pernia's proposal to create an apex water body to address the water crisis caused by the El Niño and mechanisms for resiliency in the agriculture sector, either through technology or insurance program, in the wake of weather disturbances brought by climate change.
Panelo said Duterte has also directed concerned government agencies to undertake pre-procurement processes to attain target disbursements in addressing the economic impact of the previous ban on public construction activities.
"[Duterte has] now instructed them to expedite the approval of permits and requirements for public construction projects," he said.
He added that the President has likewise instructed the Department of Information and Communications Technology, along with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, to aim for higher value-added business processes to enhance the IT and business process management (IT-BPM) sector.
Panelo said Duterte expressed hope that those who are in the IT-BPM industry would undergo retooling to further improve their skills.
"Likewise, tourism is made a priority early on, and fortunately international travel has not been affected by the ongoing trade wars even as we expect the growth of this sector offset the drop in our exports," he said.
Panelo also stressed that Duterte wanted Congress to ensure the timely passage of the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget for fiscal year 2020 for the continuing implementation of the Build, Build, Build Program.
"We [also] request our lawmakers to prioritize the legislative agenda of the President, which include the TRABAHO bill, the Foreign Investment Act, the Public Service Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and a revised Security of Tenure Bill, to address investment uncertainties caused by external factors," the Palace official added. (SunStar Philippines)