By Zaldy De Layola
MANILA – House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Friday met with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission members to brief them on the pro-poor reforms being implemented by the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to ensure that no one will be left behind in the country’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
During their meeting at the Manila Golf and Country Club in Makati City, Romualdez said IMF mission chief Jay Peiris told the House team that everything in the Philippine economy “is going in the right direction.”
“Philippine economy is solid, though the country should be ready to respond to any shock,” Romualdez said, quoting the IMF official.
“From our discussions, I could confidently say that the IMF mission members were impressed with the Philippines’ economic performance and the government’s economic agenda. They expressed confidence that the Philippines will continue to grow strongly in the years ahead,” he added.
The IMF mission members also noticed that government policies are meant to ensure sustained economic growth would benefit ordinary Filipinos.
Other IMF mission members present are Resident Representative Ragnar Gudmundsson, Senior Economist Yinqiu Lu, and Economist Tristan Hennig.
Romualdez, on the other hand, was joined in the meeting by Representative Stella Quimbo and House Secretary General Reginald Velasco.
The IMF keeps a regular policy dialogue with the governments of its member countries. It assesses economic conditions and recommends policies that enable sustainable growth. The IMF also monitors regional and global economic and financial developments.
“I am grateful to the IMF mission members for their visit and I look forward to a more insightful and productive collaboration with them in the future,” Romualdez said.
The meeting came barely a day after the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) announced a higher-than-expected growth of 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2023.
NEDA Chief, Director General Arsenio Balisacan, said the country outperformed Indonesia (5 percent), China (4.5 percent) and Vietnam (3.3 percent).
The Philippine growth rate was also higher than first-quarter expansion forecasts for Malaysia (4.9 percent), India (4.6 percent) and Thailand (2.8 percent).
Economy in good hands
Romualdez said Marcos is managing the economy well, as shown by the “higher-than-expected” growth in the first quarter.
He assured the Filipinos that the country’s economy would remain on the high-growth path.
The economy, he said, expanded by 7.6 percent in the third quarter and 7.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022, when the economy started to reopen and recover from the pandemic.
He pointed out that the high-growth quarters of 2022 and the first quarter of this year are the first nine months of the Marcos administration.
“The average economic expansion during that period is 7.07 percent, which is a respectable growth rate that is slightly higher than the median of last year’s growth target of 6.5 percent and 7.5 percent. So, the economy is in good hands,” he said.
Romualdez noted that the 6.4 percent growth in the first quarter is almost in the middle of this year’s expansion goal of 6 percent to 7 percent.
“So, our first-quarter growth rate is within target,” he said. “The Philippines was the star economic performer in the first quarter among ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members, plus China and India.”
Romualdez said the national government is expected to ramp up spending, especially in infrastructure and social services.
“The government will be the lead driver of economic activities and job and income generation,” he said. (PNA)