Philippine economy grew 5.9% in 2019, slowest in 8 years - NEDA
The Philippine economy grew 5.9 percent in 2019, its slowest in eight years, owing to delayed approval of the budget and election ban on certain infrastructure projects, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Thursday.
For the fourth quarter of last year, the gross domestic product expanded by 6.4.
Full-year GDP growth last year was lower than the 6.0-6.5 percent target.
"This fourth quarter 2019 outturn brings the full-year 2019 economic growth to 5.9 percent, the slowest in eight years and slightly below the low-end of the 6.0-6.5 percent revised target of the government for the year," said NEDA Director-General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a press conference in Pasig City.
"We have seen our economy facing several challenges right at the start of 2019 as the budget impasse led to delays in the implementation of government programs and projects. Adding to the problem was the election ban on certain, mainly infrastructure, projects," he added.
Pernia said the El Niño phenomenon also affected economic performance in the first half of 2019.
Compared with other major economies in the region that released their GDP growth in the fourth quarter, Pernia said the Philippines likely ranked second only behind Vietnam's 7 percent and higher than China's 6 percent growth rate.
National Statistician Undersecretary Claire Dennis Mapa said growth during the last quarter was attributed to trade and repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles, personal and household goods; manufacturing; and construction.
Among the major sectors, services posted the fastest growth in the fourth quarter with 7.9 percent; industry, 5.4 percent; and agriculture, 1.5 percent.
If there was no delay in the budget passage last year, Pernia said the economy could have grown by 7 percent.
He thanked the Congress for the timely approval of the P4.1 trillion budget for this year.
But he underscored the need to "significantly" improve the absorptive capacity of government agencies for faster implementation and completion of key social programs and infrastructure projects.
He said the government also needs to swiftly address issues such as the difficulty in the acquisition of right-of-way, delays in procurement, restrictive auditing rules, and skills shortages.
Pernia expressed optimism that the 6.5-7.5 percent GDP growth for this year is achievable.
But he also cited some on economic growth this year, such as the recent emergence of tensions in the Middle East, which could put upward pressure on domestic oil proces and other energy-related items; trade unrest; and worsening climate-related disasters such as bushfires, typhoons, and flooding across the world.
As to the effect of the Taal volcano eruption, Pernia said it was still hard to project its possible effect on the economy, while citing the foregone revenue for the past week since the volcano unrest on January 12. Celerina Monte/DMS