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NEWS UPDATES 10 July 2010

Philippines raises growth targets

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Philippine President Benigno Aquino's government on Friday raised its economic growth target for this year and next and said it will sell off more assets to raise money to support the expansion, according to AFP.

Manila will aim for gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between 5.0 and 6.0 percent this year, and 7.0-8.0 percent in 2011, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad told reporters.

The target budget deficit ceiling for the year was raised to 325 billion pesos (7.02 billion dollars) from 298 billion pesos, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said after a meeting of Aquino's economic advisers.

"We agreed we should set an ambitious target," Purisima told reporters.

"We cannot afford to continue targeting low levels because we will continue to lag behind our neighbours, not be able to fight poverty and not attract more investments."

Aquino's predecessor Gloria Arroyo had set a growth target for this year of between 2.6 and 3.6 percent after a weak 1.1 percent expansion in 2009 and a strong 7.3 percent growth rate in the first three months of 2010.

The government's new deficit target would be equivalent to 3.3 percent of GDP and will remain at that level in 2011 and 2.6 percent in 2012, Purisima said.

More funds would be devoted to social services including cash transfers to the poor that are conditioned on their helping the government meet development targets, such as keeping their children in school.

More school buildings would also be built while health insurance by the government would be offered to more Filipinos, Purisima said.

Further ahead, Abad said the government would trim the budget deficit target to 2.0 percent of GDP between 2013 and 2016./font>

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