The Philippine economy could grow by almost 6 percent this year thanks to improving business optimism despite a series of destructive storms in recent months, officials said yesterday.
The economy, which grew 6.1 percent in the first half compared with the same period last year, could do even better in the rest of the year as the government implements measures to boost laggard sectors, Philippine Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.
Balicasan added that outsourced businesses, trade and tourism were all doing well, and agriculture and manufacturing were expected to pick up in the second half.
“With the healthy macroeconomic fundamentals and the higher business optimism, we will most likely hit the upper end of the 5 to 6 [percent] target,” he told a forum with investors.
Heavy rains and storms last month and early this month, which left huge parts of the capital flooded, killings scores and displacing millions, had only a minimal effect on the economy, Balicasan added.
He said farmers still had time to re-plant after the storms, adding that the floods affected mostly small businesses and not the large factories or call centers.
Philippine Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez cited the 11.68 percent rise in tourist arrivals to 2.2 million in the first half of the year as a further reason for optimism.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco reported a 5.3 percent increase in remittances from the millions of Filipinos working overseas to US$13.3 billion in the first seven months of this year.
The officials also reported increased interest from potential foreign investors, following Philippine President Benigno Aquino III’s election in 2010 on an anti-corruption platform.
Aquino was already addressing corruption, which had long been cited as one of the main deterrents to investment in this country, the officials said.
However, they were also working to make the economy more efficient and streamlined to address the other concerns of investors.