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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                          1  September 2011

Philippines central bank calls for more spending

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THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Wednesday prodded the Aquino administration to crank up public spending in the second semester after official data showed the domestic economy grew slower than expected in the second quarter.

Philippine gross domestic product growth came in below market expectations at 3.4 percent in the April to June period, and slid from the 4.9-percent expansion in the first quarter.

A measure of economic performance, GDP is the amount of final goods and services produced in the country.

“We are quite surprised that growth decelerated further in the second quarter. This must be driven by the prolonged strong down pull of weak global economy which affected both exports and remittances,” BSP Deputy Gov. Diwa Guinigundo told reporters.

He said the lower growth momentum “is a challenge to increasing investment and domestic absorptive capacity,” adding that “the ample liquidity in the system and low cost of money could support it.”

Guinigundo said the lower second-quarter GDP growth figure will be an important consideration when the policy-making Monetary Board meets on September 8.

In a statement, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the Philippine economic team “will continue to work harder to chart the country to a higher growth trajectory.”

Purisima, who heads the Cabinet cluster on economic development, said “catch-up spending is gaining ground,” citing the 4.5 percent growth in the second quarter, which is a turnaround from the 17.2 percent contraction in the first quarter.


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