Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda on Wednesday said the next administration must dedicate its first few days addressing numerous economic issues, particularly ensuring the country’s food supply and fighting “aggressively” inflation that has accelerated to 4.9 percent.
In a news statement, the lawmaker reiterated his major recommendations to the next administration following the release of the country’s first quarter gross domestic product (GDP) report that showed the economy grew by 8.3 percent.
“First, we need to focus on agriculture and food supply. This will require aggressively fighting inflation through yield-promotion, biosafety [especially given African swine fever and avian flu] and climate resilience,” he said.
Salceda, who has been reelected as representative of the 2nd district of Albay, emphasized that the agriculture sector continues to lag behind other sectors of the economy, noting that it shrank by 0.7 percent on a quarter-on-quarter basis.
“This continued underperformance will bear down on the price and availability of food, with implications on general prices and living conditions,” he said.
Salceda also recommended the strengthening of the government’s safety nets “to ensure that the most vulnerable among our population remain protected from shocks and are capacitated to remain productive.”
He also proposed that the administration should work on investor confidence to “fund capital formation with private investments” given the government’s P12 trillion debt and domestic fiscal constraints.
“A commitment to the Duterte administration’s fiscal and economic liberalization reforms, prudent fiscal management strategies, and a competent and widely-respected economic team will be essential to providing the incoming administration with the kind of adrenaline rush needed to offset this deficit of foreign investor confidence,” Salceda said.
Salceda noted that the first quarter GDP figures are “very strong” despite “intermittent lockdowns on the demand side, and supply-chain issues, higher input costs, and other supply-side challenges.”
“Together with FDI [foreign direct investment] data in February, which shows a surge of 46.3 percent year-on-year from last year, this development is indication that there are tailwinds in our economic fundamentals that the next President can maximize,” he said.
Salceda, who endorsed losing presidential candidacy of Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo before the May 9 elections, also renewed his call on the government to lift the existing restrictions on public transportation to further spur the growth and contribution of transportation and storage to the economy.
“Among the major contributors to growth, the fastest grower was Transportation and Storage, which grew by 26 percent. I remain convinced that further lifting of existing restrictions on public transportation will boost this momentum and yield positive results for the overall economy,” he said.
“I reiterate my call for the lifting of bans and restrictions on provincial buses in Edsa. Provincial buses transport not only people, but also some volume of goods to and from Metro Manila. In the provinces, we call this the ‘factora’ system. Some of these goods are used or sold by small businesses—which were and continue to be saviors of the economy,” Salceda added.
The next administration should also encourage overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to invest in “safe, secure and productive private sector investments to further increase the country’s GNI [gross national income],” Salceda said.
“GNI also increased by 10.7 percent, which indicates that our OFWs and exports are beginning to recover. This should be maximized: we should continue to encourage OFWs to invest in safe, secure, and productive private-sector investments. This will be crucial given the fiscal constraints of the government,” he added.