'PH economy may still perform well in Q4'

By Iris C. Gonzales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Nov 02 2012 07:27 AM | Updated as of Nov 02 2012 07:18 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine economy may still perform well in the fourth quarter of the year even as leading economic indicators point to slower growth in the last three months of 2012, the country’s chief economic planning chief said late Tuesday.

In a chance interview on the 25th anniversary of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said indicators point toward a certain direction but the final outcome may not necessarily be the same.

“We have to take it with a grain of salt,” Balisacan said.

He said that so far, there have been no major external shocks, which could dampen growth in the last part of the year.

“So far, we have not seen any major shock, according to data from the US so I’m reasonably optimistic,” he told reporters.

The NSCB has reported that 11 leading economic indicators (LEI) point to a slow down in the fourth quarter.

The Aquino administration has an economic growth target of five percent to six percent this year.

Balisacan earlier said that the government hopes to exceed six percent given the strong performance of the economy in the first half of the year.

He said economic growth would likely be driven by the services sector, which includes the booming business process outsourcing (BPO) sector.

He declined to provide estimates for third quarter growth but expressed hopes that it would also be better than the second and first quarter economic performance.

The economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.1 percent in the first half of the year, faster than last year’s 4.2 percent growth.

The economy grew by 6.3 percent in the first quarter of the year but growth eased to 5.9 percent in the second quarter.

The Philippine economy is projected to grow by six percent to seven percent in 2013, 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent in 2014, seven percent to eight percent in 2015 and by 7.5 percent to 8.5 percent in 2016, according to the latest projections by the inter-agency Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).

Balisacan has said that the country needs to develop its own industries for economic growth to hit the 7 percent to 8 percent range.