PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has blamed the slowing down of the economy in the first three months of the year on the delayed passage of the 2019 national budget owing to infighting between the two houses of Congress.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Thursday that the economy grew 5.6 percent in the first quarter of 2019, which was the slowest in four years.
According to Duterte’s economic managers, the budget impasse in Congress which forced government to operate on a reenacted 2018 budget during the first quarter set off a spending cutback, which, in turn, stifled economic activity.
They said the economy should have grown by at least one percentage point higher, at 6.6 to 7.2 percent in the first quarter, if the 2019 fiscal program had been approved on time, meaning before the end of 2018.
Duterte thought so too.
“May panahon na hindi tayo gumastos. That was the budget na pinag-awayan ng mga congressman at mga senador. Hindi tayo gumastos kasi walang pera...so ang GDP natin talagang bababa ‘yan. Ang laki ng nawala,” Duterte said in a speech in Cebuano at a campaign rally in Davao City.
The President enacted the 2019 spending measure on April 15.