Aquino gov't to revisit 2010 growth goal


Posted at Oct 21 2010 09:10 AM | Updated as of Oct 21 2010 05:10 PM

But Aquino says ‘caution’ to be exercised in considering changes

MANILA, Philippines - Following a space of outlook upgrades by multilateral organizations, a review of the official 2010 growth target of 5.0-6.0% will be made but any change will likely not be drastic, President Benigno C. Aquino III indicated Wednesday.

"We will revisit but will exercise caution given developments in the world’s business and economic fronts," Mr. Aquino said in a text message when asked if revisions were timely following the World Bank’s raising its Philippine prognosis to 6.2% from 4.4% last Tuesday.

He did not elaborate. Officials of the Development and Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) -- which sets the country’s macroeconomic targets -- were not immediately available for comment.

The president’s statements echoed that of DBCC chairman and Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad, who last week said the panel "may consider revisions if ever a meeting will be held."

Mr. Abad warned that the government wanted to keep its gross domestic product (GDP) growth estimates "conservative" and added that some "economic projections are now becoming overly optimistic."

The previous Arroyo administration raised this year’s growth target from 2.6-3.6% to 5.0-6.0% -- adopted by the Aquino government -- after surprisingly strong first-quarter growth of 7.3%, a figure later revised to 7.8%.

The pace accelerated slightly to 7.9% in the second quarter, prompting financial institutions, debt watchers and multilateral agencies to revise their projections.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier this month raised its outlook to 7% from 6%, while the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in September announced a higher 2010 estimate of 6.2%, up from 5% previously.

Commenting on Mr. Aquino’s statement, University of Asia and the Pacific economist Victor A. Abola said a review of the 2010 target was not needed.

"I think it’s not necessary anymore. Work is always a variable. Manpower is needed for another recalculation and there’s only two months left to finish the year," he said in a telephone interview.

"Revisiting the targets for next year is more important."

The government has a 7-8% GDP growth target for 2011, higher than the World Bank’s 5%, IMF’s 4.5% and the ADB’s 4.6%.
Mr. Abola expects 2010 growth to fall within 6.8-7%, easing to 6% in 2011.