Economic growth in 2012 and 2013 would not have reached 6.8 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively, if not for government spending supported by the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Socio-Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.
An analysis of the data shows that “Philippine economic growth came in 2012, which was 6.8 percent – that would’ve been only 5.11 percent.
Similarly, growth in 2013, which was 7.2 percent, would’ve only been 6.1 percent, if programs under DAP were not implemented,” Balisacan, who is also director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said in a televised interview late on Thursday.
Affirming Balisacan’s statement, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in the same TV interview during the ANC program that the economy “started to pick up in the year after we implemented DAP in the last quarter of 2011.
The two top cabinet secretaries have been speaking to the media about the benefits of the DAP, after the controversy over its legality erupted and prompted the Supreme Court to rule that the program is unconstitutional.
“DAP is not about savings but about plugging leakages, eliminating wastage, ensuring projects are delivered to the people,” Abad said.
The government has set a target for this year of between 6.5 and 7.5 percent in terms of growth in gross domestic product (GDP). But the actual economic output during the first quarter failed most expectations, with GDP rising only 5.7 percent.
“For this year, we did not reduce the government’s GDP target from within the 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent [range]. . . But we expect growth to pick up after things normalize in the remainder of the year,” Balisacan said.
Balisacan said that if the big infrastructure programs proceed without any further interruption, that may make up for the recent slowdown, with tourism providing a big growth push for the other sectors.
“We are investing a lot in tourism and we have many developments there. We see many hotels being put up and those are investments in the tourism sector,” he said, adding that the outlook on the sector should be positive for as long as no more major typhoons disrupt the projects.
“When we build infrastructure, it should support many other industries. If you put up an airport for tourism, that airport should also be linked with industry, manufacturing, and the tourism sector should be supported by agriculture, so development should all be integrated,” he said.
“That way, our deployment of resources like that for infrastructure development would yield higher returns and greater benefits. You don’t want to have an airport just for tourism alone,” he added.
“To make tourism development inclusive, farmers should benefit.
They can produce high value food items for tourists, then they can benefit, too. Their children would have access to other employment opportunities so that would lessen underemployment in agriculture.
But if unemployed members of the family could get involved in tourism, they would benefit from it,” Balisacan said.
Asked to comment on how the 2015 proposed budget could create a trickle-down effect for growth to be shared more equitably and focus on spending on vital sectors that will sustain the growth momentum, Balisacan said:
“We just want greater synergy among the sectors. We know which sectors to focus on with our spending. We know which areas in the country have high poverty and what intervention we need to do. We have broken down the problems and provided responses to address these problems. We are more confident now that we are able to address the problems. This time we made sure that there is greater connection between spending and inclusive development,” Balisacan added.