NEDA chief: PH economy can hit 8% growth in next 6 years

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine economy can grow as much as 8% and move up as an upper middle income country in the next 6 years if it addresses   infrastructure bottlenecks, and works on improving the business climate and human capital, the country's socio-economic planning chief said.

Otherwise, the Philippines' gross domestic product (GDP) would only continue to grow at 6%, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Arsenio Balisacan said at a media briefing in Pasig City on Thursday, December 17.

GDP is the monetary value of all goods and services produced within the country's borders over a specified period. (READ: 6.9% Philippine GDP growth in Q4 unlikely - economists)

"If it would be business as usual, potential growth of the economy cannot be higher than 6%. But if you can – and we should – address concerns, potential growth can jack up to 7-8%," Balisacan said.

The third quarter GDP growth of 6% is an improvement from 5.8% in the previous quarter, and from 5.5% in the same quarter in 2014.

The government has targeted a 7%-8% full-year growth for 2015, but it is skeptical if it would reach the projection, saying "a 6% for 2015 is much likely."

The Philippines is among the lower middle income countries, data from the World Bank showed.

"For 2015, we are so far growing at an average of 5.6%. That is for the first 9 months, with 6% growth in the last quarter due to strong domestic demand, more jobs, and more public and private investments," Balisacan said.

"This [makes] the Philippines one of the fastest-growing major economies in Asia, just after India, China, and Vietnam. Our year-to-date performance reflects a steadily growing economy, and we are very optimistic that the Philippine economy will grow at 6% for full-year 2015," he added.

According to the latest World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, the Philippines now ranks 47th, a leap from 85th in 2010. 

"This makes us the most improved economy in the ASEAN region and across the world in terms of competitiveness rankings over the last half-decade," Balisacan said.

For the past quarter, the gains of the services sector, improvement in state spending, and robust private consumption helped the Philippine economy grow faster.

"2015 and 2016 will [provide] robust growth. The downside is the brunt of El Niño phenomenon. Peak period is around March, April, and May. Much of the provinces are expected to be in drought or dry spell," Balisacan said.

Philippine economic growth in the first 9 months of 2015 is now at 5.6%. A 6% full-year growth is very much likely given even better prospects for the last quarter, the NEDA chief said. – Rappler.com