The Philippine economy, despite the blip in the first quarter of the year and the trade tension between the US and China, is generally performing well. The recent strong showing of the peso against the US dollar and the entry of local stock into the bull market territory suggest better economic prospects ahead.
The peso early this week climbed to an 18-month high of 50.90 against the US dollar to return within the 50-a-dollar level, drawing strength from foreign inflows as investors bet on the stock market’s rally. The stock market, meanwhile, is upbeat as investors cheered the central bank’s commitment to reduce interest rates further in the second half of the year.
A bullish stock market and a stronger peso are the harbingers of a more robust economic expansion in the latter part of 2019. They reflect the confidence of investors on the economy and an affirmation of the country’s strong economic fundamentals.
The executive department and lawmakers should take these as a cue to strengthen further the economy to achieve government’s objective of significantly reducing the poverty incidence in the country. President Rodrigo’s State of the Nation Address on July 22 will likely enumerate his social and economic programs for the remainder of his term to steer the Philippines toward the ranks of the more developed economies in Asia.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, should listen to the demands of the market and investors by approving economic reforms. For starters, they should work quickly on the proposed 2020 budget and move for its early approval to avoid the costly mistake early this year when they acted on the expenditure plan late. The late budget approval led to a slowdown in the economic expansion during the first quarter of 2019, as government expenditures were restricted.
Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez drove it home when he reminded his colleagues that it was the duty of the 18th Congress to help sustain the successes of the President’s programs and projects by acting favorably and swiftly on the proposed legislative agenda that Mr. Duterte was expected to outline in his SONA.
Economic and social reforms will not succeed without the cooperation and support of the legislative branch.