Philippine Q4 GDP growth likely to exceed Q3 - Balisacan

by Erik dela Cruz and Karen Lema, Reuters

Posted at Dec 17 2014 04:14 PM | Updated as of Dec 18 2014 09:11 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Philippine economic growth in the last three months of the year will likely be better than the third quarter, a senior economic official said, expressing hope the economy would still expand by 6 to 7 percent this year despite the impact of a typhoon.

"There are still a lot of unknowns (but) so far the indicative numbers based on the available information at this time ... show that it's expected to be better than the third quarter," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told a media briefing on Wednesday.

The domestic economy grew 5.3 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the slowest since the fourth quarter of 2011, hurt by a decline in public spending and farm output.

GDP growth of 6.0 percent for the whole year, although lower than the government's target of 6.5-7.5 percent, would still be a "very respectable" figure, Balisacan said.

The Manila-based Asian Development Bank on Wednesday cut its 2014 growth forecast for the Philippines to 6.0 percent from a September estimate of 6.2 percent.

Positive results in the latest business and consumer confidence surveys point to faster growth in the fourth quarter, with the impact of Typhoon Hagupit which hit the central Philippines early this month likely to be "negligible", Balisacan said.

Speaking ahead of a scheduled review of macroeconomic targets by a panel of economic managers early next month, Balisacan said he still believed that the original GDP growth goal of 7 to 8 percent for next year remains a "very doable, very realistic" target.

He said the domestic economy was strong enough to withstand shocks from the brewing financial crisis in Russia that is now unsettling markets.

"Our economy is much more resilient now than 10 or 20 years ago. Our economic fundamentals are very strong," he said, citing a positive current account, low inflation, stable foreign exchange rates and a small budget deficit.