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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        24  February 2011

World Bank forecasts slower Philippines growth

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THE World Bank said Philippine economic growth would slow down this year and in 2012, as last year's growth drivers disappear and international oil and food prices continue to rise.

In its Philippines Quarterly Update, the multilateral lender said the country's gross domestic product (GDP) would grow 5 percent this year and 5.4 percent next year.GDP refers to the total value of final goods and services produced in a country. The World Bank's forecast is lower than the government's growth target of between 7 and 8 percent until 2015.

The lender said the country's economic growth could be "higher" if the investment climate continuous to improve.The World Bank said its 2012 GDP growth forecast is premised on the implementation of the public-private partnership (PPP) program of the Aquino administration.
Despite the Philippines' remarkable economic expansion in the past years, the lender said, "growth continues to bypass many of the poor."

While real GDP growth averaged 5.4 percent during the 2003 to 2006 period, and 4.3 percent during the 2006 to 2009 period, or well above population growth, "the poverty incidence rose from 24.9 percent of the population in 2003 to 26.4 percent in 2006, and inched up further to 26.5 percent in 2009," the World Bank said.

From 2003 to 2009, an additional 3.3 million Filipinos became poor, pushing the poverty headcount to 23.1 million.

Using a micro-simulation model, the World Bank said the El Ni?o will result in a 0.9 percent reduction in total household income in 2010 mainly due to a combination of lower employment levels and individual earnings. This would result in moderate increases in poverty incidence and poverty gap by 0.4 and 0.2 percentage points.

Eric Le Borgne, World Bank senior economist said the government efforts to improve the investment climate, tackle corruption and weak governance, along with more credit-rating upgrades could boost investor confidence and attract more private investment in the next few years.

The report also identified downside risks that could weigh down future growth such as rising international oil and food prices, which could slow the economy down and raise inflation.

The World Bank projected that inflation could hit 4.8 percent this year and 4.5 percent in 2012. The lender however noted that in contrast to many countries in the region, food price inflation has been muted so far in the Philippines.

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