By Chad de Guzman, CNN Philippines
The Philippines economic growth slowed down to 6.1 percent in the third quarter of 2018, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
This is slower than the 6.2 percent gross domestic growth (GDP) growth registered in the second quarter and the 7.2 percent in the same period in 2017.
“We are not exactly exuberant about the 6.1 percent growth rate, but still comforted that we still remain one of the fastest growing economies in Asia,” National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a press briefing.
NEDA said the slowdown could be attributed to lower food consumption in the households, which only hit 5.2 percent in the third quarter. In the second quarter, household consumption was at 5.9 percent.
PSA Undersecretary Lisa Grace Bersales said this has been the lowest household consumption since the third quarter of 2014.
Pernia said the economy could have grown 6.5 to 7 percent in the quarter if not because of high inflation, which was at 6.7 percent in October, unchanged from the previous month.
The PSA also said that the agriculture industry grew by only 0.2 percent, which offset the developments in services industry at 6.9 percent.
“The more robust solution is to reform the legal framework surrounding agricultural development and agricultural trade especially rice and sugar,” Pernia said.
He then urged Congress to fast-track the passage of the rice tarriffication bill to fund agricultural programs.
He added that in order to achieve government’s low target of 6.5 to 6.9 percent economic growth for the year, the Philippines must post a 7 percent GDP in the fourth quarter.