MANILA - Economic growth in the fourth quarter was "strong," giving the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas "ample policy space," Governor Nestor Espenilla said Tuesday.
The 6.6-percent expansion in the October to December period "confirm the underlying strength of the economy that rests on increasingly balanced foundation," Espenilla said in a statement.
"This gives BSP ample policy space to stay focused on meeting its inflation target and pursuing ambitious financial sector reforms," he said.
The Bangko Sentral's Monetary Board is expected to meet for the first time this year on Feb. 8. Analysts expect the regulator to raise the benchmark rate by as many as two times this year to address rising consumer prices.
The central bank has set an inflation target of 2 to 4 percent.
Tax reform, the government's recent sale of $2 billion in global bonds and official development assistance will help the economy grow faster in 2018, Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez said.
"There will be a more exciting growth narrative for the Philippines this 2018, more so now that all of the government’s plans to keep the country among the world’s fastest-growing economies have started falling into place," he said.