Fault-finders cannot ignore economic gains

CRITICS of the administration and other fault-finders are becoming louder and bolder in their favorite pastime. I have expected such sniping from the opposition halfway through the term of President Duterte.

With the next presidential elections just less than three years away, the opposition and critics of the administration are taking every opportunity to launch a tirade against President Duterte and his political allies in their bid to offer themselves as the alternative party in the 2022 national elections.

To cite an example, opponents of President Duterte always take issue about the state of his health and one will tend to believe that his health is indeed deteriorating based on the fake news being spread around by his critics. I personally believe the health of President Duterte is fairly stable despite his age. Fault-finders are exaggerating the situation and haven’t stopped harping on the issue in order to sustain their unrelenting criticism in the run-up to the next presidential elections.

The administration’s war against drugs, meanwhile, has become a favorite issue with the opposition and an easy scapegoat for the supposed failure of governance.

But these carping critics cannot ignore the gains of the economy in the first three and half years of the Duterte administration. Despite their incessant condemnation of the administration and vituperations that go along with it, the Philippine economy has expanded impressively since President Duterte took over in May 2016.

The economy performed well in the third quarter of 2019, defying the negative sentiments aired by several camps.

Economic indicators point to a strong positive growth in the fourth quarter despite the increasing political noise on various issues. While such criticisms are expected to become louder in the next couple of years amid political maneuverings, I am optimistic the economy will remain stable and companies will continue to enjoy robust income based on positive economic indicators.

A combination of the strong gross domestic product growth and low inflation in the third quarter will certainly pave the way for faster expansion in the succeeding quarters.

The gross domestic product grew 6.2 percent in the third quarter, following two quarters of a deceleration in expansion. Data show among major emerging market economies in Asia, the Philippines posted the second-fastest growth behind Vietnam’s 7.3 percent. If this cannot be considered positive news, I don’t know what else can satisfy the naysayers.

National Economic and Development Authority Director General Ernesto Pernia concedes that the Philippine economy will have to do more in order to attain the original GDP growth target of six percent to seven percent. But he remains optimistic about the challenge.

The benign inflation outlook and more upbeat consumer confidence in the fourth quarter, he says, are expected to stimulate private consumption, especially with the early start of the holiday season. Amid stable prices, Filipinos now have more spending power during the holiday season that will surely lift household spending in the fourth quarter.

Buyers of big-ticket items such as housing units or automobiles are also in for a treat, as the 75-basis-point reduction in benchmark interest rates by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas this year is beginning to translate into more affordable bank loans.

I just hope that the BSP will continue with its monetary easing to give both businesses and consumers more financial incentives to fund their expansion and expenditures.

All these indicators represent a strong economy that is expected to sustain its growth, notwithstanding the negativity surrounding the political circle. It is, thus, important that we do not lose track of the more important goal of establishing stable macroeconomic fundamentals that translate into improved quality of life for the Filipinos.

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This piece first came out in Business Mirror on Dec. 10, 2019 under the column “The Entrepreneur.” For comments/feedback e-mail to: [email protected] or visitwww.mannyvillar.com.ph./PN

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