Palace downplays nat’l debt hike: Look at GDP, macro-picture
Malacañang has downplayed the increase in the debt of the national government, which almost reached the P6-trillion mark for the first ten months of the year as reported by the Bureau of Treasury on Wednesday.
The national government debt was set at P5.96 trillion as of October 2015, 4.3 percent higher than the same period last year and almost double the proposed 2016 national budget.
Asked if President Benigno Aquino III was aware of the recent data and had issued an order to prevent the national debt from ballooning further, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said debt should be compared side by side the country’s economic growth, particularly the gross domestic product (GDP).
“I think you have to look at the debt to GDP ratio. The investment ratings agencies have always looked at the macro-picture of the Philippine situation: how we are doing, how the economy is doing, how are we managing our fiscal resources, including our debt,” Lacierda told reporters in a press briefing.
“They have all come out and said: ‘The Philippines has managed our fiscal situation quite well.’ Our fiscal managers have managed our economy pretty well,” he further said.
The Philippines’ GDP expanded by six percent in the third quarter of 2015, the fastest pace of growth so far this year. It was higher than the five percent posted by the country in the first quarter and the adjusted 5.8 percent in the second quarter. The latest figure also exceeded the dismal 5.3-percent growth registered in the same period last year, which was blamed on government underspending.
Lacierda said the country’s economic growth, in comparison with other nations in Asia, reflected efficient fiscal management.
“I think our fiscal managers and our economic manager have presented—have managed our economy pretty well, that’s why we continue to have–we are–the third fastest growing economy in Asia. So fairly I think, we have managed our fiscal resources, including our debt, pretty well,” he stressed.
Asked if the debt hike reinforced the President’s position not lower income and corporate taxes amid public clamor, Lacierda said Aquino’s stand was “not contingent” on the issue, but added that “we are all in favor of reviewing our tax laws.
“What we are concerned is that, we need to have time to deliberate on a comprehensive review of the tax laws… Our position is: let’s have a comprehensive review, not just focus on one because it’s a zero-sum game. We take out something, we have to make sure that it is supported by some other thing,” Lacierda said.
“We have a steady stream of revenues. If that is taken out, how do we make sure that that steady stream of revenues, which provides services to our nation, which provides services to our countrymen, will be able to be maintained or even further accelerated or improved. That’s a concern that we have,” he added.
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