6% growth target stays

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    The Department of Finance (DOF) said the government is maintaining its growth target of six percent or higher this year, even as the economy settled at only 5.5 percent growth in the first semester given the delay in the enactment of the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

    Carlos Dominguez, finance secretary, also said to avoid a repeat of the 2019 budget delay, leaders of both the Senate and the House of Representatives are meeting every month to monitor the progress on the budget and the 25 priority bills enumerated in the 4th State-of-the-Nation Address.

    On keeping the full-year economic expansion target of six percent or higher, Dominguez said a catch-up spending plan crafted for this year and the timely passage of the 2020 national budget will help the government achieve this growth target.

    He expressed optimism there wouldn’t be a repeat of the delay in the approval of the 2019 GAA, in light of the much better working relations this time between the executive and legislative departments.

    Dominguez also said the swift congressional approval of the remaining packages of the comprehensive tax reform program (CTRP) and other economic reform bills meant to further open up the domestic economy to investments are crucial for the administration to achieve its goals of high and inclusive growth, and transforming the country into an upper middle-income economy ahead of schedule.

    “The passage of the remaining tax reform packages and other economic reforms will help us secure the A-minus credit rating within the next two years and achieve our 14 percent poverty target by 2022. There is reason to believe that the winds are in our favor and the stars all aligned, or as the naval prose goes, here we have fair winds and following seas,” Dominguez said in his meeting on Friday with congressional leaders, former finance officials and economists at the DOF office in Manila.

    The lunch meeting was hosted by Dominguez to discuss the CTRP and the other proposed economic reforms of the Duterte administration.

    Former prime minister Cesar Virata; Sen. Pia Cayetano, Senate ways and means committee chairperson; Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, House ways and means committee chairperson; former finance secretary and senator Alberto Romulo, who is now chairman of the Development Bank of the Philippines; former finance secretary Margarito Teves; and former finance secretary Roberto De Ocampo, who is now chairman and chief executive officer of Philippine Veterans Bank, were present at the meeting.

    Also at the meeting were former finance secretary Jose Isidro Camacho, who is now managing director in the Asia-Pacific division of Credit Suisse; former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director general Cielito Habito; former NEDA director general Arsenio Balisacan, who is now chairman of the Philippine Competition Commission; and former finance undersecretary Romeo Bernardo.

    Economists Fermin Adriano, former vice chancellor of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños and board member of the Asian Development Bank Institute; and Filomeno Sta. Ana, coordinator of the Action for Economic Reforms, were also present.

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