Poll spending to hike GDP past 7% goal

By Mia M. Gonzalez, BusinessMirror

Posted at Oct 02 2012 07:06 AM | Updated as of Oct 02 2012 10:19 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The government is hopeful election spending and public-private partnership (PPP) projects to be rolled out next year would help boost the economy grow past its 6-percent to 7-percent target in 2013, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said on Monday.

Abad said in an interview after the proclamation of Liberal Party senatorial bets at Club Filipino in San Juan that the 2013 growth target did not factor in poll spending that year.

The budget chief made the statement when asked if growth in gross domestic product (GDP) may exceed the 6-percent to 7-percent target in 2013 because of the anticipated boost from election spending.

“We hope [it would]. Plus the rollout [of PPPs]. We hope that by that time, the US elections would have been done so the policy options of the US will become clearer, the fear of a fiscal cliff will be much less, so we don’t know. But we’re hopeful,” Abad said.

Responding to questions, Abad said President Aquino had grounds to be optimistic about GDP growth surpassing the 5-percent to 6-percent target this year, especially as half-year growth is already at 6.1 percent.

He said with “the preparations for the elections and then the rollout of the PPPs in the last quarter,” Mr. Aquino—who expressed confidence last week that GDP growth would exceed the target in 2012—“has firm basis for projecting something optimistic for this year.”

“Christmas is usually the time when the holiday and campaigning mix, hence the rush of spending for Christmas and the preparations for the elections will further boost the economy,” Abad said.

He also pointed to global indices in terms Philippine competitiveness, ease of doing business and transparency.

“I just came from New York in a conference and everybody is looking toward the Philippines especially here in Asia. So I think whereas before, the response of the investing public has been slow, lately it has really been picking up very fast and I think you add that to what is happening right now domestically and I think you have basis for being optimistic,” Abad said.

But for now, he said, the government would “just want to be able to achieve the target, at least the high end” for this year.