MANILA, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Philippine manufacturing output declined in March, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said on Tuesday.
In its Monthly Integrated Survey of Selected Industries (MISSI), the PSA reported that the Volume of Production Index (VoPI) and the Value of Production Index (VaPI) for March declined by 9.2 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.
During March 2018, PSA said an annual two-digit growth of VoPI at 11.0 percent was observed. "Eight major industry groups pulled down the annual VoPI led by furniture and fixtures, food manufacturing, and petroleum products," the PSA said in a report.
The PSA also said VaPI decreased at an annual rate of 5.4 percent in March this year. During the same month of the previous year, it said VaPI went up at an annual rate of 10.5 percent.
"The decline of VaPI in March 2019 can be attributed to the decreases in the indices of three major industry groups led by food manufacturing," the PSA added.
The Philippine National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) expressed optimism that manufacturing production is expected to be buoyed by stronger domestic demand and business optimism despite the recent decline in performance.
"We expect the figures to improve in the coming months as we see the increase in demand during summer, given the rise in the number of local and foreign tourists, easing of inflation, and an increase in election-related spending. Government spending on infrastructure and other government services is also likely to catch-up," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.
However, he said the presence of El Nino dry spell could easily feed into a hike in power and water rates, which are essential inputs to the manufacturing sector. Fortunately, forecasts point to El Nino weakening starting May to August this year.
"An immediate implementation of a catch-up plan after the passage of the 2019 budget must be pursued to regain the government's spending momentum. This should, at the same time, counter the impact of the temporary interruption in the implementation of new and on-going projects as well as funding for social services," Pernia said.
Pernia stressed the need to address losses in food manufacturing due to costly delays in the processing and issuance of clearances, permits or required certifications by food safety regulatory authorities (FSRAs).
"There is a need to improve the organizational and operational capacity of the Food and Drug Authority along with other FSRAs," he added.