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Elevated Government Expenditure to Fuel Economic Growth, Affirms ECOP Chief πŸ’ΌπŸš€

MANILA β€” In a resolute statement on Friday, Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., President of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), underscored the urgency of intensifying government spending as a pivotal driver to catalyze economic growth.

Speaking at the Laging Handa briefing, Ortiz-Luis emphasized the need for the government to escalate its expenditure to attain its targeted growth rate of 6 to 7 percent for 2023.

Given that the Philippine economy registered a growth rate of 4.3 percent from April to June 2023, falling short of the anticipated 6 to 7 percent and trailing the 6.4 percent expansion in the first quarter, Ortiz-Luis stressed the necessity to bridge this gap and facilitate a catch-up.

“There is a disparity between the present rate and the target for this period. We did not achieve the target growth. The growth has increased only slightly, so we need to accelerate to catch up,” he affirmed.

Furthermore, Ortiz-Luis acknowledged a significant shortfall in government spending as a substantial contributor to this disparity. He highlighted that some department budgets remain largely unutilized, attributing this to the adjustment phase of a new administration, where personnel are still acquainting themselves with the operational intricacies and effective allocation of funds.

Nonetheless, Ortiz-Luis urged a swifter execution of the budget, emphasizing, “Perhaps, there’s a need to expedite the utilization of the allocated budget.”

The President of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines echoed the sentiments of the economic managers under the leadership of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. The economic team, comprised of Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority Director General Arsenio Balisacan, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, and Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, declared their intention to revitalize growth momentum through heightened government spending in the upcoming quarters.

A circular letter dated August 9, issued by Pangandaman, prompted government agencies to submit catch-up plans in response to the under-programmed spending observed in the first half of 2023. The Bureau of the Treasury’s data indicated that government spending for the initial six months of the year amounted to PHP2.411 trillion, falling 6.6 percent or PHP170.5 billion short of the PHP2.582 trillion programmed for the period.

Stimulating Employment Opportunities

Meanwhile, Ortiz-Luis attributed the upsurge in employment rates β€” reaching 95.5 percent in June β€” to President Marcos’ foreign engagements and the gradual economic reopening.

He identified construction, agriculture, administrative and food services, public administration, and defense as contributing to augmented job creation.

“Primarily, our departure from the pandemic era has been continuous, and with it comes ongoing hiring. The government has persistently encouraged investments, and President Marcos’ frequent travels have not only brought an influx of investors but this trend is also expected to continue,” Ortiz-Luis explained, noting the surge in registrations with the Board of Investments and Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

“In fact, through the Philippine Chamber of Commerce [and Industry], we encounter delegations almost every week, seeking partnerships and exploring opportunities for business ventures triggered by President Marcos’ overseas trips,” he added.

To expand the scope of opportunities for the Filipino workforce, Ortiz-Luis highlighted ECOP’s ongoing advocacy campaign. Additionally, ECOP has entered into a collaborative agreement with the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Trade and Industry, manufacturing entities, business process outsourcing firms, and the tourism industry. This cooperative endeavor aims to generate 1 million new job opportunities and contribute to the nation’s progress.

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