DBCC to meet soon but tweaks to targets unlikely

BusinessWorld

Posted at Oct 22 2010 12:39 AM | Updated as of Oct 22 2010 08:39 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Economic managers are expected to meet sometime in the next 3 weeks to review the country’s macroeconomic targets but changes are unlikely given the lateness of the year.

"I don’t think that is really contemplated," Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said at a press conference yesterday when asked about revisions to this year’s 5.0-6.0% growth target.

Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima bluntly replied "no" when asked the same thing in an ambush interview. He declined to elaborate.

The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), which sets macroeconomic targets, will be meeting before the government’s launch of the public-private partnership initiative on Nov. 17-19, Mr. Abad said.

"There is only two months left [to the year]," said Mr. Abad who is also DBCC chairman.

"We are at the higher end of it (the growth goal). The problem happens when we have low growth with high targets."

President Benigno C. Aquino III on Wednesday said the DBCC would "revisit" the growth goals but would also exercise "caution" in doing so.

Better than expected 7.9% growth in the first half prompted debt watchers and financial institutions to revise their Philippine forecasts. The World Bank last Tuesday raised its forecast to 6.2% from 4.4% and earlier this month the International Monetary Fund hiked its outlook to 7% from 6%. Last month the Asian Development Bank announced a higher 2010 estimate of 6.2%, up from 5% previously.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano W. Paderanga, Jr., also a DBCC member, said revision of growth targets "would be discussed" once the panel meets, but reiterated that it would be good for the country to maintain its "conservative" estimates.

"The key is here is that you don’t use a high estimate for your expenditures. It is easier to increase expenditures rather than bring them down," Mr. Paderanga in a telephone interview.