Binay: Economic growth must create jobs
Ghio Ong, Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - January 29, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay downplayed yesterday the 6.3 percent growth in the economy in the last quarter of 2015, saying such improvement is “meaningless unless it provides jobs” for the people.

He also criticized the marginal improvement in the agriculture sector at only 1.6 percent from 2011 to 2015, saying the figure proves the continued neglect by the Aquino administration of this vital sector. 

“The agricultural sector had a very imperceptible growth last year at 0.2 percent. Agriculture, despite being the dominant sector, is the least productive under the present administration,” Binay said.

Lawmakers also hit Malacañang yesterday for making it appear that the country’s growth and corruption figures improved last year.

Reps. Terry Ridon of the Kabataan party-list group and Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte said the Palace was trying to put different spins on the country’s 6.3 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year, and the 2015 Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) where the Philippines slid 10 notches from 85th to 95th place.

This is the second year that the GDP has slumped, with growth sliding from the peak 7.1 percent growth in 2013, to 6.1 percent in 2014, to only 5.8 percent last year, Ridon said.

Binay said the agriculture sector’s dismal growth rate under the Aquino administration was the second lowest recorded since 1986 as he vowed to focus on improving the sector, provide jobs and address widespread poverty, especially in rural areas, if he wins the presidency.

His administration, he claimed, would concentrate on generating jobs in the 15 provinces with the most number of poor families, especially those with poverty incidence greater than 50 percent, which he identified as Lanao del Sur (67.3 percent), Eastern Samar (55.4 percent), Apayao (54.7 percent) and Maguindanao (54.5 percent).

He promised to create economic zones in key agricultural provinces and train farmers to shift from subsistence farming to agribusiness.

On the GDP growth, Ridon said, “These figures offer a bleak economic forecast for the coming year. Yet, what we are more appalled about is the fact that Malacañang officials, especially presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, still have the gall to heap praises to the administration despite the slowdown.”

He added that instead of discussing the economic downturn as it is, Lacierda and Abad “twisted data to downplay, and even hide” the slowdown.

Lacierda used technical terms like the ‘six-year moving average,’ which actually masks the fact that a marked economic slowdown has again taken place, he stressed.

Ridon pointed out that the government’s fiscal managers actually projected a seven to eight percent GDP growth, as reflected in the 2015 National Expenditure Program.

“We’re way off-target and this has serious implications, even for the country’s national budget,” he said.          – With Paolo Romero

ACIRC AQUINO ATILDE BINAY CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX EASTERN SAMAR EDWIN LACIERDA AND BUDGET SECRETARY FLORENCIO ABAD GROWTH NBSP PERCENT RIDON
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