April 15, 2019 / 1:09 PM / 4 months ago

Philippines' Duterte signs $71 billion national budget, after months of delay

FILE PHOTO: President Rodrigo Duterte speaks after his arrival, from a visit in Israel and Jordan at Davao International airport in Davao City in southern Philippines, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr/File Photo

MANILA (Reuters) - Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed a 3.7 trillion peso ($71.5 billion) budget for this year, its largest ever, ending months of impasse that forced the Southeast Asian country to cuts its growth target.

The Philippines last month cut its 2019 growth target to 6-7 percent from 7-8 percent, reflecting the absence of a new budget and the impact of the U.S.-China trade dispute.

In signing the budget, the president vetoed $1.8 billion worth of appropriations, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told reporters. Vetoed items include non-priority public works, he said.

Months of squabbling between the upper and lower chambers of the house delayed the transmission of this year’s national budget to the president.

For next year, economic managers will propose a 4.1 trillion peso ($79.35 billion) national budget. The Philippines, among the fastest growing economies in Asia, is aiming for growth of 6.5-7.5 percent in 2020, and 7-8 percent in 2021 and 2022, mainly through an extensive infrastructure overhaul.

The Philippine economy grew 6.2 percent in 2018, the slowest in three years, because of weak exports, manufacturing and farm output.

(This story corrects growth targets to 7-8 percent in 5th paragraph, not 7-9 percent)

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema; Editing by Robert Birsel

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