Despite a slowdown in the gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter, the government remains confident of the country’s economic fundamentals.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) earlier announced that GDP slowed down from 6.6 percent from the last quarter to 6 percent this quarter.

“I don’t think it is alarming because 6 percent is still high. We may not have met the target, but 6 percent is very high,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. on Thursday.

The President’s policies might have adversely affected the economy but these policies are for the long-term benefits of the nation, he said.

“If GDP will further fall because of the desire of the President to protect the environment, so be it. We’re investing in the future and not just in the present,” Roque added.

The Cabinet official was referring to the closure of Boracay, which has been reported to have contributed to lower economic growth in the second quarter.

“I don’t think we should approach Boracay purely from a financial and economic point of view,” he said, noting that the President has given higher priority to the protection of the environment.

As to the high inflation rate, the President’s spokesperson assured the public that the government is doing its part to address the issue, including eyeing the possible lowering of agricultural tariffs.

“With what Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said, I can see that there will be a decrease in tariff but Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol also said that zero tariff cannot be implemented because it’s out and out war with our agricultural producers if tariffs will be lifted,” Roque said.

Roque’s remarks were in response to reports that there is an executive order to be signed to set tarriff to zero to ease food inflation.

He said protecting the interests of local farmers and agricultural producers is also necessary.

“We will find a balance to be able to use the tariff and importations as instrument to lower tariff

Meanwhile, notwithstanding lower GDP and the high inflation rate, Grant Thornton, an international professional services network, still considers the Philippines as second best in business optimism among Southeast Asian countries.

“The report said that the Philippines is second best in business optimism in Southeast Asia with 82 percent, which is 8 points higher than the first quarter of the year and above the ASEAN average of 64 percent,” Roque said in the same press briefing.

The Philippines came second to Indonesia while Malaysia and Singapore came in third and fourth, respectively.

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