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NEWS UPDATES 15 October 2009

Philippines: Govt keeps growth target unchanged despite twin storms    

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Philippine government is sticking to its gross domestic product (GDP) growth target for 2009 of between 0.8 percent and 1.8 percent, although estimates on the damage from the recent twin storms indicate a growth setback of at least 0.4 percent, reported the Philippines Daily Inquirer.

Augusto B. Santos, director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, said during the latest of regular briefings by economic managers held Wednesday that Tropical Storm “Ondoy” and Typhoon “Pepeng” cost at least P15.6 billion, but that the figure was still to be updated.

“The total damage could be as much as 1.4 percent of GDP,” Santos said, referring to the total value of goods and services produced and rendered within the country.

“But there are counter factors that make the economy resilient, such as (buoyant) consumption amid continued low inflation and higher-than-expected remittances (that) would drive growth for the year,” the Neda chief said.

Santos noted that the 1.5-percent year-on-year GDP growth recorded in the second quarter, which was better than projections, made the Philippines one of only four countries in the region to have posted positive growth.

“The fact that all sectors except manufacturing grew in the first semester is another indication that an economic recovery is underway,” he added.

Santos said growth drivers for the second semester include the retail trade sector, tourism, business process outsourcing, construction, mining and quarrying, government services and air transportation.

For 2010, additional push would come from the expected recovery of the manufacturing sector; financial services; transportation, communication and storage; and agriculture.

Even then, Finance Secretary Margarito B. Teves admitted that the budget deficit could breach P300 billion in a worst-case scenario.

Teves had reiterated that the government was keeping its target deficit cap of P250 billion despite the devastation from floods.


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