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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        24  March 2011

Philippine growth rate revised

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The Philippine central bank revised its economic growth forecast downward for the country, as the Aquino administration braced for a slowdown amid the political tensions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as well as the disaster in Japan.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said a 5-percent to 6-percent economic growth "is a reasonable figure in a situation like this."

"The 7-[percent] to 8-percent growth has been described by the national government as the fighting target. And for budgetary purposes, a growth rate of 5 [percent] to 6 percent is a respectable growth rate for any economy," Tetangco told reporters on the sidelines of the Chamber of Thrift Banks' annual convention.

Separately, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga said the country's economic target this year may be revised downward mostly because of the disaster in Japan and the political crisis in MENA.

Paderanga told reporters that the target of between 7 percent and 8 percent growth for the country's gross domestic product (GDP) this year "could be" revised downward, after last year's 34-year record expansion of 7.3 percent.

The key measure of economic output, GDP is the total value of final goods and services produced in the country.

Tetangco said recent developments have forced economic managers to put up for review the country's macroeconomic assumptions.

"The situation in the MENA and Japan would definitely have an impact in a number of areas such as trade, remittances and investments," he said.

Japan is the Philippines' top trading partner, as well as the source of about a third of official development assistance (ODA) going Manila's way, and of five percent of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) remittances.

The MENA region hosts seven in every 10 OFW, and account for about a third of total remittances. "We have to look at trade and investments. The prognosis, though, is that the situation in Japan may be somewhat negative in the short-term. But because of the reconstruction and rebuilding programs that could be implemented, the potential impact on the economy of Japan and its trading partners is positive in the long term. The situation is still evolving. There is no definitive assessment. So, we will continue to monitor," Tetangco said.

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