PALACE OKAY WITH SLOW GROWTH / RP ECONOMY VULNERABLE TO RECESSION

MANILA, FEBRUARY 2, 2012 (MANILA STANDARD) THE Aquino administration said Tuesday it was satisfied with last year’s economic growth because it was all-inclusive despite being below its target.

The Palace is not disturbed by the comparison of last year’s 3.7-percent expansion with the 7.9-percent growth achieved by the past administration in 2010 because “a slow but inclusive growth is better,” according to presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte.

She said the administration will “exert best efforts” to meet this year’s fighting target of 5 to 6 percent.

The gross domestic product grew by only 3.7 percent in 2011, which was below the 4.5 to 5.5 percent full-year target set by President Benigno Aquino III’s economic managers.

The National Economic and Development Authority said the contraction in exports cost the domestic economy some 2.2 percentage points, while government underspending trimmed 0.8 percentage points from last year’s growth.

Earlier, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said there was no need for a fresh stimulus package this year as the government had started spending on infrastructure to pump-prime the economy.

The administration says it has started implementing P141.8 billion worth of infrastructure projects this month to build national roads and bridges, airports, seaports and lighthouses, classrooms and other education facilities, potable water supply systems, irrigation and post-harvest facilities, and flood- control and slope-protection structures.

Abad said that of the 2,187 line-item infrastructure projects financed by the 2012 budget, some 2,025 projects or 93 percent had been bid out and would be given notice to proceed within the first quarter this year.

Mr. Aquino approved a P72-billion stimulus package last year to boost fourth-quarter growth. Joyce Pangco Pañares

FROM THE TRIBUNE BUSINESS NEWS

Noynoy blamed for making RP vulnerable to recession 02/01/2012

[PHOTO - Ma. Milagros 'Mitos' H. Magsaysay Representative, 1st District, Zambales province Republic of the Philippines Committee Memberships in the 15th Congress House of Representatives RULES Assistant Minority Leader (Journal #13) ACCOUNTS Member for the Minority (Journal #4) APPROPRIATIONS Member]

The administration of President Aquino was chided yesterday by a lawmaker for the dismal performance of the country’s economy in 2011.

Posting a mere 3.7 percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) compared to 7.6 percent the year before, the economy, according to Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, was mishandled because of the administration’s misplaced priorities and excessive politicking.

Magsaysay expressed alarm over the government’s own statistics showing the country’s GDP dropped to more than half in a span of just one year.

“It is very alarming, considering that the growth rate did not just fall but dropped to half of what the country has posted in 2011. It would be tall order for the government’s economic team to catch up and regain the losses but with all this political turmoil besetting the Philippines, we are digging our own graves because no one wants to invest in a nation with this kind of political tension,” said Magsaysay.

“What is even more scary is that there is an economic recession looming and we are ill-equipped to deal with its impact,” the solon added.

Magsaysay noted that the country was able to weather the 2007 world economic crisis as the government then was prepared to cushion its impacts on the people “but now, these gains have been completely wiped off and we are left at a vulnerable state.”

“The President was very confident before when he assumed office. He was spouting a lot of promises when it comes to uplifting the country’s economy but here we are almost two years later and what have they achieved? Where are the private-public partnerships? Where are the investments that he promised to bring in?” said Magsaysay, adding that Aquino failed even in the field of human rights, an issue he vowed to champion.

“Even cases against human rights such as the Maguindanao massacre have remained unresolved,” Magsaysay averred.

“So far, the only gains that this government has achieved pertains to prosecuting the former administration, charging the former president and humiliating the Chief Justice. Whether this is helping the country move forward I am unsure,” she added.

Magsaysay said that while the government is at liberty to go after those whom it believes to have committed wrongdoings against the state, there should be a balanced approach in handling the affairs of the country.

“The President should look at the bigger picture and not simply obssess over one aspect. As a result of his nearsightedness, prices of gasoline and electricity, which is a major concern for both businesses and regular consumers have increased unchecked, and the country’s workforce it at a loss about how to deal with inflation because there is an imbalance in the state of their wages and the rate of increase in the prices of goods,” Magsaysay said.

“Instead of making strong pronouncements and criticizing the former administration’s handling of the state, how about reflecting on what kind of job he is doing and actually working to address the nation’s woes?”

Meanwhile, Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan lashed anew at the administration’s highly-vaunted Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program saying the recent SWS survey indicating increased hunger proves it is a failure.

“It is high time for the Aquino administration to rethink its Conditional Cash Transfer program and instead, implement a more sustainable poverty alleviation program that will address the growing hunger and poverty among Filipinos,” said Ilagan.

The Gabriela solon likewise said poverty and hunger surveys should help guide Malacañang and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the creation of its proposed budget for 2013.

The budget call for 2013 has officially commenced and various departments are expected to submit their proposal for the 2013 budget in the first quarter of this year.

Ilagan further said that it has been four years since the CCT was first implemented under the Arroyo administration, yet this has not resulted to any significant improvement in the lives of poor Filipino families.

“The undeniable fact remains that more Filipinos are poor. The Aquino government should cut if not totally forego spending for the CCT. Let us stop wasting billions in taxpayers’ money for a failed anti-poverty program. Instead, this should be realigned to the delivery of direct social services such as health, housing and education.”

Ilagan notes that in 2009, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) said that 26.5 million Filipinos survive on less than P41 per day. This data further increased to 27.6 million in 2010. Late last year, methodologies in the computation of the poverty rate were conveniently adjusted thus the poverty rate was pegged at 26.5 percent which translates to 23.1 million poor Filipinos. Has this not been manipulated, the old methodology would reveal 28.5 million poor Filipinos in 2011.

The recent SWS survey conducted in December of 2011 revealed that 22.5 percent of the respondents claimed to have experienced having nothing to eat, up slightly from September’s 21.5 percent. Charlie V. Manalo


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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