Fri, Jan 27, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Philippines sees growth slow in fourth quarter

OPTIMISM:The nation’s economic growth for the whole of last year was on the high end of a forecast by Manila, which said that it would hit this year’s goal

AP, MANILA

The Philippine economy expanded at a 6.6 percent annual rate from October to last month, the slowest pace of expansion for the year, although full-year annual growth clocked in at a relatively brisk 6.8 percent, officials said yesterday.

Robust domestic demand underpinned growth in the fourth quarter, helping to offset a contraction in agriculture and slowing government spending, Philippine Secretary for Socioeconomic Planning Ernesto Pernia said.

The 6.8 percent expansion for the year was at the high end of the government’s target of 6 percent to 7 percent growth. Growth in the past seven years has averaged 6.3 percent.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte inherited a relatively vibrant economy when he took office in June last year. He has pledged to slash the poverty rate, but investors are wary of his brutal anti-drug campaign that has left more than 7,000 dead and his rhetoric against the US, other Western governments, the UN and human rights groups.

The 6.6 percent growth in the three-month period was lower than the 7 percent growth in the previous quarter, but up from 6.3 percent growth in the last quarter of 2015.

Growth usually slows after a new president takes office, as investors adopt a “wait-and-see” attitude, Pernia said.

The latest data were a “testament that our economy remains robust and is growing at a healthy and steady pace,” he said.

He forecast that the economy would attain this year’s official target of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent annual growth, which could accelerate to 7 percent to 8 percent in the medium term.

The government hopes to gain “upper middle-income” status for the Philippines, which would require raising gross national income per capita to more than US$8,000 from less than half that now, Pernia said.

The government also aims to help 6 million out of 22 million Filipinos escape poverty by 2022.

The Philippines has a population of nearly 104 million people.

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