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World Bank: PH rice program is 'risky business'

Posted at | Updated as of 08/15/14 7:52 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan is confident the economy will meet government's full year growth targets.

On ANC Presents: Philippine Development in Focus, Balisacan said challenges such as rising food prices are temporary.

Growth already slowed to 5.7 percent in the first quarter, the slowest pace in more than two years.

Balisacan's statement comes two weeks before the release of the second quarter GDP report.

"The macroeconomic fundamentals haven't really changed that much apart from the uptick in inflation, but that we are confident that's just a temporary thing. But we're addressing that properly and I think those growth rates are still within reach," he said.

The Philippine government is targeting 6.5-7.5 percent GDP growth for 2014.

Meanwhile, World Bank lead economist Rogier van den Brink said 6 percent growth, if sustained, would be very strong.

But he says the government's rice program is "risky business."

"Rice is something the people need everyday so whatever the price they will still buy it. Meaning if there's only little shortfall calculation a little bit wrong, the price will shoot up. I think the main cause was there was a shortfall. I think the solution is to import rice as fast as you can," van den Brink said. - ANC