Duterte: Budget row dragged down economy

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 11 2019 05:43 AM

MANILA - Bickering in Congress over the approval of the 2019 national budget is to blame for the slow economic growth in the first quarter this year, President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday.

"Atong ekonomiya ni-ana gamay because naay panahon wala tay gigasto. That was the budget nga nag-away ang mga congressman ug mga senador," he said in Cebuano during a speech at the miting de avance of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago - Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (HNP-HTL) Davao City District 1 in Davao City.

('Yung ekonomiya natin bumaba nang kunti dahil may panahon na wala tayong ginastos. Iyon 'yung budget na nag-away ang mga kongresista at senador.)

The Philippine economy grew at its slowest pace in 4 years, missing forecasts, dragged by a delay in the enactment of the P3.7-trillion national budget, officials said Thursday.

Gross domestic product grew 5.6 percent in the first quarter, from 6.3 percent in the October to December period. The median of a Bloomberg poll predicted 6 percent growth while a Reuters survey placed it at 6.1 percent.

Growth would have accelerated to 6.6 percent had the country operated on the 2019 budget at the start of the year, said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.

The country operated on a reenactment of the 2018 budget until Duterte signed this year's spending plan in April. Lawmakers had wrangled over alleged "insertions" in the 2019 budget bill.

The President vetoed a total of P95.3 billion in the budget, which include alleged "insertions" applied by congressmen covering public works projects.

"I'd like to sure assure everybody all throughout the Philippines, the money will be divided by regions and equally as needed," he said.