Who felt PH’s 7.8% GDP surprise?

Something is changing in the Philippine economy and those who still have doubts must take notice

MANILA, Philippines – The government says the country grew at the better-than-expected rate of 7.8% in the first quarter, the highest so far in Asia.

It’s a massive surprise.

The Philippines overtakes China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Economists and analysts expected the country to grow at a phenomenal rate, but not more than 6% in the first quarter.

Something is changing in the Philippine economy and those who still have doubts must take notice. 

While money sent home by Filipinos abroad and electronic products assembly are still drivers, the industry sector is coming back to life. 

High electricity prices and a restive labor once drove investors away, but manufacturing is now attracting investors who are putting up factories. 

The reasons are beyond us, such as higher wages in China, economic concerns in Vietnam, and leadership issues in Thailand and Indonesia.

The Philippine political arena is relatively stable, the government is fiscally healthy, and its anti-corruption efforts make the country look good in the eyes of investors. 

But a question nags: Who felt the better-than-expected GDP growth? 

Numbers show construction grew the fastest in January to March.

The government did not hold back as it did in 2012, spending on roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure that businesses need to move around. 

Taking the cue, real estate companies build more condominiums and office. Small developers and store owners expand nationwide.  

That created more jobs for construction workers. 

Hot money from abroad and bullish local investors energize the banking and financial services sector. 

But the rest of the 100 million Filipinos who are not in real estate and the financial markets will not feel the change.

The Philippines has the highest jobless rate of about over 7% in Southeast Asia.

The government says the best is yet come, saying economic growth will trickle down. They just need time. 

“We are in a new growth trajectory. If we continue growing at this stage in the next 10 or 15 years, we will be in a situation where Thailand is,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan says.

Per capita income in the Philippines is now around half of Thailand and about quarter that of Malaysia. A few more years of growth above 6% and the Philippines can catch up and lift more out of poverty.

Growing 7.8% in the first 3 months does not make the Philippines a one-year wonder.

But with last year’s 6.8 growth, it means the momentum can be sustained. – Rappler.com

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