MANILA - The World Bank said Wednesday it lowered its growth estimate for the Philippines this year and next, citing slow implementation of public investments.
The Washington-based lender now expects gross domestic product growth of 6.6 percent this year and 6.7 percent in 2018. It earlier projected 6.9-percent growth this year and next.
"The fact that we expect to be growing slower than we did 6 months ago, is attributable to the fact that public investment implementation is taking a bit longer than we expected," said World Bank chief economist for the East Asia and the Pacific Sudhir Shetty.
Political noise stemming from alleged extra-judicial killings and allegations of unexplained wealth against President Rodrigo Duterte have not affected the country's growth prospects, Shetty said.
The government's ambitious infrastructure plan has the potential for a "considerable payoff" in investments, Shetty said.
"What is equally important, is not just making the plans to increase these investments, we also need to be paying attention to how these projects are selected, to ensuring they're implemented on time, implemented according to budget," she said.
Sought form comment, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said this year's growth did not not have the boost from election-related spending in 2016.
"We’re optimistic that the economy will grow much faster in the second half compared to the first half," Diokno said.
Quoting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, Diokno said growth this year would be "in the vicinity of 7 percent."