Philippines 2007 growth fastest in 31 years: government

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Well I dunno if this is true but it would be nice to dream like this... It's like a press release from the Government so READ ON!!

Philippines 2007 growth fastest in 31 years: government

The Philippines economy grew 7.3 percent in 2007, its highest rate in 31 years, officials said Thursday, attributing the record performance to gains made across all sectors of the economy.

The figure compared with gross domestic product (GDP) of 5.4 percent in 2006 while gross national product, including foreign remittances from abroad, rose 7.8 percent in 2007 from 6.1 percent in the previous year, they said.

Economic Planning Secretary Augusto Santos said the 2007 growth figure "exceeded market expectations and is so far the strongest since the economy registered its last peak growth of 8.8 percent in 1976."

Santos said the government maintained its forecast that growth would slow to 6.3 to 7.0 percent in 2008 given an expected slowdown in the US.

"What we are saying is that if there is a recession in the US, then that will affect us, but the situation is closely being monitored," he told a press conference.

He noted the US as the country's main trading partner and home for thousands of Filipino workers who send money back to their families and he also expressed hope that a US recession could be avoided.

"The continued weakness of the US economy and the volatile oil prices are clouds on the horizon that pose downside risks to growth in 2008," he said.

"As we see it, there may in fact be no recession in the US given the stimulus package by the Bush administration."

Philippine share prices, which had been in negative territory for most of the day's trade, were pulled up by last-minute buying after the announcement of the better-than-expected growth figures.

The composite index ended up 9.47 points or 0.3 percent at 3,266.00 points with broader sentiment still being held back by concerns over the US economy.

Economic growth over 2007 was led by a robust services sector where output grew 8.7 percent. Industrial output rose 6.6 percent, while farm production was up 5.1 percent.

In the last three months of 2007, the economy grew 7.4 percent year-on-year, the government added.

"It was slightly higher than what most people had expected," Astro del Castillo, director of the Association of Securities Analysts of the Philippines, told AFP. "What we are worried about now is moving forward.

"The fact that we performed well in 2007 is good news but 2008 might be a different story given the challenges we are facing," he said.

He said the Philippine economy should continue to grow this year but will be slower than 2007 due to the threat of a recession in the United States.

"The government should continue to sustain its fiscal reforms," he said.

Frederic Neumann, an economist at HSBC in Hong Kong, said the GDP data was a surprise.

"The country's economic growth remains very robust and it is unlikely to decelerate in the first half."

"The Philippine government's proposal for a 75 billion pesos stimulus package should even add to this year's growth and cushion the impact of an economic slowdown in the US," said Neumann.

The Philippines has long been the economic laggard of Asia but in recent years, economic reforms implemented by President Gloria Arroyo have sharply boosted growth.

Critics charge growth has not benefitted the poor who form the bulk of the population but National Statistical Coordination Board chief Romulo Virola said recent surveys show the poor are also feeling the effects.

He cited a December, 2007 survey by independent research firm Social Weather Station that found that the number of Filipinos who considered themselves as poor had fallen to 47 percent, down from 52 percent in September, 2007.

source: Agence France-Presse - 1/31/2008 5:33 AM

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