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May 30, 2008

Q1 growth falls to 5.2%

The Philippines posted a growth rate of 5.2 percent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the previous year's 7.0 percent, the government said on Thursday.

The Philippine economy succumbed to rising oil prices, the slowdown in the US economy and the negative effect of a strong peso, but it is definitely not in the brink of a slowdown, said Augusto B. Santos, Philippine Socioeconomic Planning Secretary, at a press conference on the economic performance for the first quarter of the year.

Growth to this quarter was boosted by the solid performance of trade, finance and transportation, communication and storage.

On the expenditure side, main growth drivers were personal consumption expenditure, durable equipment and construction.

On the production side, the services sector remained the strongest, registering a robust growth of 6.9 percent, albeit slower than the 8.4 percent gain in the previous year. The industry sector expanded at 3.9 percent from 6.6 percent in 2007 while the agriculture sector slowed down to 3.0 percent from 4.0 percent last year.

In terms of contribution to GDP growth, the 5.2 percent growth came from services, with 3.3 percentage points; industry, 1.3 percentage points; and agriculture, 0.6 percentage point.

Economic growth continued to outpace population growth and per capita GDP grow by 3.1 percent, a slower pace compared with last year's 4.9 percent.

Two factors, including weak external demand and high prices of oil and food, led to the fall of GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate, Santos said.

Inflation, the measure of the year-on-year rise in consumer prices, shot up to a three-year high of 8.3 percent in April from 6.4 percent in March, due to the unabated rise in oil and food prices.

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