HOUSE committee on ways and means and Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has said that the policy to reopen the country’s economy “is the strongest demonstration of the political will of the Marcos administration,” emphasizing that “without it, we would not be seeing the kind of strong numbers we are getting in the economy.”
“President Marcos has managed the reopening of the economy very well. First was the commitment to no more lockdowns. That took months of effort in restoring hospital capacity. All without fanfare,” Salceda said.
“That was followed by the gradual pullout of the mask mandates without significant uptick in cases requiring hospitalization, under EO No. 3, making masking voluntary outdoors; and EO No. 7 – making masking voluntary indoors,” he said.
“PBMM also rolled back of contact tracing and swabbing requirements for travel. This coincides with the roll back of swabbing requirements in government offices,” Salceda said.
“The rollout of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines also ensures that we are prepared for when COVID-19 becomes a seasonal disease, like flu. The national reopening is really the most underreported and underappreciated accomplishment of the Marcos administration.” Salceda said.
Economy strong thanks to reopening
Salceda also said that the economy is stronger under President Marcos first year.
“Because of a successful reopening policy, we have a much stronger economy,” he said.
“GDP per quarter under PBBM has been very strong, and so far, consistently above the historical average. He has clocked in 7.2, 7.1, and 6.4 percent quarterly GDP growth rates. The 20-year average is just 5.9 percent. So, if he can sustain that, he will be one of the best in terms of economic performance,” Salceda said.
Salceda also cited that unemployment is going down under the President.
“There are 290,000 more jobs under the latest jobs report than when President Marcos took over in June 2022. More importantly, existing and new jobs are better-paying, as the March underemployment rate of 11.2 percent is the lowest it has been since April 2005. None of that will happen without timely reopening,” he said.
Salceda also said he expects inflation to be under control this year.
“The June inflation rate of 5.4 % is the fifth consecutive month since January 2023 that inflation has declined. I see it going down to 2.9% by December,” he said.
“On conventional macroeconomic goals of lower prices, more jobs, and higher growth, he’s doing very well. We just have to work on fiscal consolidation because there are some worrying signs. BIR collections have grown by just 0.5% over the first quarter, while BOC collections are at 13% growth. Nominal GDP growth is 11%. So, I have some worries there,” he said.
“Hopefully the President announces a fiscal consolidation program during his State of the Nation Address, because we need to spur his majorities in both houses to pass new revenue measures.
We needed to borrow to survive the pandemic, but we’re going to have to pay those debts,” he said.
“And when the interest and principal payments take their bite, we will have to do less infrastructure and social services, unless we create. new revenue streams. We really need fiscal consolidation,” Salceda added.