NEDA chief remains optimistic economy will grow 7-8pct next year

By Ted P. Torres, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 06 2014 09:51 AM | Updated as of Dec 06 2014 05:51 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The head of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said he remains confident a seven- to eight-percent economic growth rate for the country in 2015 is still “very realistics.”

On the sidelines of the Asean Integration forum yesterday, Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA director general Arsenio M. Balisacan said government is still comfortable with the original seven to eight percent growth rate despite the relatively lame performance in the first three quarters this year.

Balisacan said projections for the first two quarters of 2015 remained very rosy despite the lower-than-expected 5.3-percent growth in the third quarter this year.

“Inflation and interest rates will remain subdued, capital formation and foreign direct investments (FDIs) will be strong in the first semester of 2015,” he said.

The economic planning czar pointed out that the first nine-month economic performance was marked by an upward trajectory due to the involvement of the private sector.

“We expect the private sector to maintain a robust performance; government will have adjusted to the new protocol, Likewise, the reconstruction assistance in the Yolanda-affected areas is already gaining traction,” Balisacan added.

The third quarter growth rate of 5.3 percent placed the full year 2014 target of 6.5- to 7.5-percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in jeopardy.

But Balisacan remained optimistic that growth targets are achievable.

Unemployment rate is expected to improve to just 6.8 percent from the average seven percent in the past few years.

In the next five years, the Philippines is on track to be counted among the upper middle income countries. And in the next 15 to 20 years, the country could escape the so-called middle-income trap.

“The Philippines has come a long way from being the sick man of Asia,” Balisacan added.

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