Govt sees growth topping 6%

The government sees economic growth topping 6 percent in 2015, despite the slower-than-expected performance in the first half.

“For the first half of 2015, the economy grew by 5.3 percent.  Admittedly, this falls short of the original official target for this year.  We at Neda believe, however, that the economy can still reach at least 6 percent real GDP growth in 2015,” said Economic Planning Secretary and National Economic and Development Authority director-general Arsenio Balisacan said during the Philippine Economic Briefing at Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City Wednesday.

“This performance will still make us as one of the best performers among the emerging economies, especially when one considers the general weakness of the global economy.  As advanced economies are expected to recover next year, growth can accelerate towards 7 percent next year,” he said.

Balisacan said the economy grew by an average of 6.2 percent over the last five years, the strongest since the mid-1970s. 

He said over the next few years, the economy would the potential to grow between 7 and 8 percent annually, if investments and infrastructure projects would be sustained.

“In our current level of development, I see no reason why we cannot go beyond 7 percent,” Balisacan said in a subsequent panel discussion.

He cited the country’s “youth bulge,” or the young population entering labor force, complemented by investments to increase productivity. He said infrastructure capacity should be continuously upgraded.

“We should also maintain high levels of investment in human capital to maintain a healthy labor force… We should also continue investing in socio economic resiliency, such as disaster preparedness. We should also improve the country’s institutions,” Balisacan said.

“Next year, we are optimistic of growing by 7 percent as advanced economies were seen to recover in 2016 and that will benefit the Phiippines,” Balisacan said.

Meanwhile, Balisacan said the Philippines might import more rice this year in preparation for an expected shortfall in the supply of the staple in the coming months due to the lingering effects of El Niño dry spell.

“[As of now] we don’t have the exact number [or amount of importation]… What I’m trying to say is that at the very least, there is going to be a shortfall and with the minimum buffer, we have to ensure there should be no increases [in prices],” he said.

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