Press Release
January 29, 2021

Statement on the 2020 GDP Output

First, focus on food. If the GDP report card is bad, the GNP--the number of Gutom na Pilipino--is worse. There should be a review of the farm-to-table chain. Every step, and not just focus on the narrative na "kasalanan ng middleman." Many of the problems are upstream--production for one, and not just on overpricing. When traders are paraded as the usual suspects, we may not be able to find the real solution. The green shoots of economic recovery must be seen in our farms.

Mahalaga ang pagkain, because Filipino families on the average spend 43 percent of their income on food. But the bottom 30 percent, or about 7.42 million families, allot almost 60 percent of their income on food. If the daily minimum wage won't be enough to buy a pot of chicken tinola, then hunger becomes COVID's deadliest side effect.

Take advantage of the good weather window until mid-June to boost construction and agriculture. Domestic tourism, too, provided protocols are in place for people who would like to take a leave from Netflix to safely enjoy the outdoors. Government should turn the entire country into a beehive of construction this summer - a physically distant, protocol compliant outdoor activity that can employ many. Begin with health facilities. Build while the sun is up, before the rains come, and the typhoons do damage.

Step on the gas on vaccine procurement. Yan ang Artikulo Uno sa mga dapat gawin ng pamahalaan. Joblessness is a result of jab-lessness. Vaccination injects the people with immunity and it injects the economy with vitality. Drop in consumption led to income loss of about P1.05 trillion last year, 15 percent of which, or P150 billion, is our projected vaccination bill.

Government turned in good spending numbers, except in the sector which it should have pumped more - infrastructure. Where is the much-vaunted P1 trillion for the building spree? Bakit P680 billion lang in 2020, which is 35 percent lower than last year?

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