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‘PHL growth faster than regional powerhouses’

Newly built high-rise buildings mark the skyline of the Fort Global City in this 2018 file photo.

GROWTH of the Philippine economy will be faster than other regional economic powerhouses under the Duterte administration, the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Wednesday, citing the World Bank (WB) for such projection.

The country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals provide the basis for the Bank’s expectations that the Philippine economy will grow faster than China and Malaysia, the DOF said in a statement on Wednesday.

Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said the World Bank based its projections on the Philippines’s solid external stance and “highly domestically driven” economy, which provides it “ample cushion” against external headwinds that are generally foreseen to slow down global growth this year.

“The Philippines is also expected to remain as an attractive destination for foreign direct investments [FDI]. We are pushing for further liberalization of investment ownership in the country,” said Beltran, also the chief economist of the DOF.

According to World Bank forecasts, the Philippines’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 6.4 percent this year, second only to Vietnam’s 6.6 percent, and higher than China’s 6.2 percent, Indonesia’s 5.2 percent and Malaysia’s 4.6 percent.

In 2020 and 2021, the Philippines’s GDP growth of 6.5 percent for both these periods will equal Vietnam’s 6.5 percent, also for both periods, and surpass China’s 6.1 and 6.0 percent, respectively.

The Indonesian economy is projected to expand 5.3 percent for 2020 and 2021, while Malaysia will maintain its growth at 4.6 percent in both these years.

Based on an economic research published by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) Global Ratings for June entitled Apac Monthly Snapshots: Trade Wars and Currency Corners, the country’s GDP is seen to settle between 6 percent and 6.5 percent this year.

“We continue to expect GDP growth to come in at the low end of the 6 percent to 6.5 percent range in 2019, with a likely resumption of the infrastructure build in the second half of the year to bring the fiscal impulse for the year to around neutral after being negative in the first half of the year. We also expect BSP [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas] to maintain its easing bias this year, supporting growth, as inflation will likely stay benign especially compared to last year’s spike,” the economic research said.

Beltran noted that the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio also continued its downward trajectory on the Duterte watch despite its ambitious infrastructure buildup under its “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program, with national government debt in relation to GDP at 42.1 percent in 2017, and falling further to 41.9 percent in 2018.

“Moreover, the Philippines has implemented monetary and nonmonetary policies to keep inflation manageable and bring it back to the government’s target range of 2 to 4 percent this year. Perceived overheating risks have abated, driven by government measures and policies,” Beltran said.

Fitch Ratings has also maintained its “BBB” with a stable outlook for the Philippines as of May this year, while Moody’s also affirmed its Baa2 with a stable outlook as of November 2018.

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