'Yolanda' rebuilding to bolster GDP growth recovery in Q2

By Catherine N. Pillas, BusinessMirror

Posted at Jun 10 2014 07:36 AM | Updated as of Jun 10 2014 03:37 PM

MANILA -- The chief economist of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management department of the East Asia and Pacific Region of the World Bank gave its concurrence to the National Economic and Development Authority’s (Neda) position that post-Supertyphoon Yolanda reconstruction will fuel second quarter gross domestic product (GDP) recovery.

“In the short run, accelerating the reconstruction program in Bohol and the Yolanda-affected areas would have an immediate positive impact on GDP growth,” said Dr. Rogier van den Brink of the World Bank in an e-mail interview.

The country registered a 5.7-percent GDP in the first quarter, the slowest for the Philippines in nine quarters, credited to the “lingering effects” of the massive devastation wrought by Yolanda in November last year.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, likewise, said last week that recovery and rehabilitation will mitigate the foreseen impact of the truck ban on the GDP and may aid in gaining a higher growth rate in the second quarter.

In addition to accelerated reconstruction, the chief economist said further assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could contribute to the growth, as well.

“Making it more easy for small and medium-scale enterprises to do business, including for export, would be key to higher GDP growth and job creation,” van den Brink said.

The second quarter growth rate, however, the chief economist said, cannot be projected yet.

The Asian Development Bank regional integration economist, in an earlier report by the BusinessMirror, also underlined the need for enhancing the competition for local SMEs, which comprise more than 85 percent of establishments in the country to spur growth.

The 5.7-percent growth in the first quarter of the year, driven mostly by services and industry, was considered “disappointing” by the private sector and experts.

Neda, however, is optimistic the lingering impact of the storm will subside in the following quarters, allowing more room for growth with an additional boost from private-sector investment plans in manufacturing and tourism.